When my grandkids graduate from 8th grade, I take them on an adventure. I do this for several reasons. First, I treasure our one-on-one time. There’s nothing like spending 24/7 with a person to really get to know them. Second, I value travel. Leaving home pushes people out of their comfort zone and broadens their perspective. Third, I want to do my part to nurture our family’s next generation.
Cam asked to attend a Red Sox game at Fenway Park for his getaway. Covid and his travel ball schedule derailed the trip for over a year, but we made the journey on August 10, 2022. He and his mom flew from Los Angeles; me from San Francisco, our planes landing at Logan International Airport twenty minutes apart.
We ubered to the Commonwealth Hotel, our temporary home. Watching Cam’s smile when the staff handed him a baseball backpack filled with Red Sox swag—hardball, plastic case, sweat rag, water bottle, decorative pin, and cap—made my day. When he spotted Fenway’s giant lights from our window, his expression told me I had hit a home run.
The three of us stashed our suitcases and headed outside to meet Boston. The first evening in any new town always heightens one’s senses. We felt the 3-hour time change, the balmy air, the breeze from the Charles River. We admired the brick row houses and their manicured gardens on the way to dinner at the iconic Cheers bar. Cam had never heard of Sam Malone and the gang so I had fun introducing him to one of my favorite sitcoms.
The next day, we hiked the Freedom Trail and took an evening Duck Tour. Cam’s real adventure began on day three when he slid on his pitching glove and walked ten minutes from our hotel to Fenway Park for a “field experience.” He stood near home plate behind temporary fencing and barely moved for three hours as his heroes warmed up for the 7:15 p.m. game. He caught three balls, keeping one for himself and giving two away.
When 6 foot 7 inch Yankee Aaron Judge sauntered over to sign autographs, the fans went wild. They screamed, “Judge! Judge! Over here!" while shoving balls in his face. The 2017 Rookie of the Year walked the line, randomly signing autographs. When he got close to us, Cam held up a ball and said, “Aaron?” Judge had his choice of people to make happy that day, and he chose Cam. My grandson pushed his luck. “Photo?” Judge hesitated. Kim blurted, “He’ll be playing with you in a few years.” Judge looked at Cam's glove. “Pitcher?” Cam nodded. Judge posed for the photograph then said, “Best of luck” before moving on. That evening we cheered for the Yankees.
On day four, we returned to Fenway at 11:00 a.m. for a behind-the-scenes tour. We climbed inside the famous Green Monster, spotting Babe Ruth’s signature on a wall. We walked through the press box and ate lunch in the clubhouse where Red Sox outfielder Jarren Duran joined us for a meet-and-greet. Duran answered questions about his career and personal life. (He believes hard work trumps talent, he got his first tattoo to honor his grandmother, he isn’t married but has a girlfriend, he keeps his future aspirations private, and he plays video games to chill). Cam soaked in every word as if Duran was revealing MLB secrets. That evening we cheered for the Red Soxs.
I asked my grandson to improve my woeful ignorance of the game. He didn’t hold back. I learned the fields where he plays ball are the same size as Fenway. He shared what coaches say to players when they huddle during time-outs, and he explained why the infielders shifted positions at times. He corrected my vocabulary, chuckling. “It’s on deck, Mimi, not next at bat.”
As Cam watched the game, I watched him. He has a quiet confidence that draws people to him. At 6 feet 2 inches tall and 180 pounds, he’s more of a man than a boy. Working out and hurling eighty-seven-mile-per-hour balls has given him veiny, muscled arms. He knows baseball is a numbers-driven sport, which is why he does football strength training even though he doesn’t play football, and he takes lessons from a former MLB pitcher. He is constantly working to improve his stats.
Playing baseball for seven years has taught him about teamwork, patience, perseverance, dedication, and hard work. Coaches have pulled him from games after two innings because he was having an off day. He has pitched entire games, walking off the mound with his fist clenched in victory. I’ve seen him replace other pitchers in the sixth inning with the scores tied, one out, and runners on first and third. I asked how he manages the pressure. “By throwing one strike at a time,” came his swift reply. My grandson is turning into an elite athlete right before my eyes.
Cam is doing his part to turn his dream into a reality. This summer, he played tournaments in Arizona, Georgia, Oakland, Ventura, Los Angeles, Irvine, Westminster, and La Mirada. After spending five days with him in Boston, I have zero doubt he will find success as a professional pitcher. Just like peanuts and crackerjacks, he belongs inside the MLB world. Aaron Judge and Jarren Duran worked hard and found success in the big leagues. Why not my grandson?
* If you'd like to see our 5-day trip in pictures, click here.