Cooperstown always seemed so distant for this team. There was talk of it years ago; something they'd do when they were twelve, but that wouldn't be for a long time. The Cooperstown Dreams Tournament therefore seemed to be exactly that. A far-off, distant dream.
But with every spring season and fall season that came and went, we seemed to talk about it a little more, until it became much more than talk. There were planning meetings. And fundraisers. Raffles. Autobell gift card sales. Hours and hours working concessions to raise money for the trip. And there was the advice from those who had gone before: "You'll give up a lot of home runs," they said. "You're going to lose games. No Southpark team has ever made it to Thursday." Through all this Cooperstown started to loom pretty large.
Then, as it goes with boys, and all children, they'd gotten older much too quickly. Cooperstown, once distant, was here. Sure, our boys did give up some home runs, but they hit plenty themselves. In pool play, they were 6-0. They won a tournament game, which put them into Thursday. Their performance this week surpassed every Southpark team that had ever come to Cooperstown. The team that knocked our boys out went on to win the championship. It was, to put it mildly, an amazing week.
Which leads me back to the very name of this tournament: Cooperstown Dreams. Until this week, I'd thought the "Dreams" part was for these boys. They got to play just down the road from the Hall of Fame. They surely all hope to make the Hall one day. And the professionally maintained fields here, and the smaller outfields more conducive to home runs, surely Cooperstown Dreams refers to the way our boys must have felt like big leaguers.
But I was wrong to think that. You see, there are a million decisions that parents make, and through them all we just hope that our kids make it to adulthood and become good people. That they learn something that will serve them well. That they have good childhoods. And if they happen as kids to have, or do, a little more than we got to have or do as kids, that's icing on the cake.
That's why I can't help but think we've been extremely lucky this week. Our boys will always have the memory of this amazing team. They will forever remember how their siblings and family members cheered and hugged them after every game. They will tell the stories of this week to children of their own one day. They will always know that amazing things can happen when you never give up. They, for the rest of their lives, will know that heroes come in sizes big and small. They are so much better for having been here.
And that's why I was wrong to think the name of this tournament was for them. The Cooperstown Dreams, it turns out, were not those of the boys. They were ours.