Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Too Brief A Moment In The Sun: A Tribute To Kaiser Carlile
I grew up in a small town where summer days were spent tearing through the streets on stingray bicycles, baseball cards flapping in the spokes until they were tatters. Coke bottles were hauled in rusty red wagons to the corner store to trade for small coins which were then traded for penny candies, kept safe from sticky fingers behind the checkout counter that was tended by a bee-hived, soft-hearted, impossibly patient woman named Flo.
Evenings were spent under the bright lights of the Bee Jay field, where we cheered on our favorite players-we knew every one of their names-ran back and forth to the concession stand too many times too count, and cultivated school girl crushes on those golden boys of summer.
To us small town kids, those boys were larger than life. To the young boys of our town, they were heroes to be emulated. In the way they slung their curve balls, spat their chew, and winked at the girls. I realize, now, they were just boys themselves, but back then, they were the closest thing to gods as kids in Liberal, Kansas were ever likely to encounter.
Every local boy, including my brother, Mike, waited anxiously for their turn as batboy, their chance to rub shoulders with the big boys, to shine. Their moment in the sun.
On Saturday, in Wichita, Kansas at the National Baseball Congress World Series-the "Big Show" for collegiate minor league teams- Kaiser Carlile's moments in the sun were tragically cut short. The nine year old batboy was struck in the head-he was wearing a helmet-as he ran to retrieve a bat from the field. He later died.
I am heartbroken. Heartbroken for two boys, both so excited to be where they were on that day, one a young man thinking ahead to his moment at bat and the glories it could bring-the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, the open mouthed awe of his teammates-the other, a bespectacled little boy, watching anxiously for his cue to run out on the field, in front of all those people-his mom and dad, grandparents, jealous pals, big brother teammates-oblivious to everything but the quick beat of his bursting heart.
I am heartbroken for a crowd that watched as an angel crumpled to the ground. I am heartbroken for the Bee Jays organization-the Carlile family has been the mainstay of support behind the scenes for generations.
I am heartbroken for my hometown who lost one of its golden boys.
I am, of course, most of all, heartbroken for his parents and siblings and grandparents and aunts and uncles, cousins, whose moments in the sun will from here on out be shaded with unimaginable loss. They will forever bear a wariness of bright days, a jaundiced view of perfect moments.
Finally I am heartbroken because of all of those bright sunny days, the crisp autumn afternoons, the frosty winter evenings, and the hope-filled spring mornings of my own golden boys, my sons' childhood I chose to cloud with alcohol.
In honor of Kaiser, don't drink today. Grab your kids and hug them hard. Today. Tomorrow. Every Day.
They are our moments in the sun.
Liberal Loses Beloved Batboy