Tyler loved baseball. He played from a very young age and had planned to play much longer. I remember watching him play t-ball. So small and skinny he could barely swing the bat. There were no outs and no score was kept, but he loved it. We would practice in the cul de sac and I did my best to throw the ball into his tiny glove.
He moved on to coach pitch and eventually to kid pitch. Here they kept score and there were three outs. It was the big leagues for him. He played first base and was a pitcher. I remember the first time he ever pitched in a game. I think he hit the umpire with the ball more than the ball ever hit the catchers glove. He was so nervous. I remember him looking over at me with those eyes, "Dad, help me. I can't do it." I wanted to run out there and throw the ball for him. To hit the glove every time for him, but I couldn't. I smiled back at him and nodded my head, "You got this. You can do it."
While I am sure he would have liked to have found a hole and crawled in it - he didn't. He pitched that game and many more after that. He got better and his confidence grew. He was excited to try out for the middle school team. In fact, it was baseball that ultimately convinced us that we needed to take Tyler to the emergency room at Phoenix Children's Hospital. He never made it to tryouts. He was at the hospital getting an MRI. Our first glimpse of the monster inside his head. Just like those many years before he looked at me with those eyes, "Dad, help me. I can't do it."
Again, I wanted to take his place - to throw his pitches for him but I couldn't. I smiled back at him and nodded, "You got this. You can do it." He had moved from playing with no outs and no runs to playing for his life. I am sure he would have liked to have found a hole and crawled in it but he didn't. He threw every last pitch he had. He never gave up. I love you, son, and miss you so much it hurts. You'll always be my favorite baseball player. Cherish every moment. Tyler's Dad Whatever It Takes