A few months back, I had the idea about compiling an e-book about how cool Rhode Island Baseball Moms are. The book, which is still in the works, will have a donation attached to it to the Rhode Island Chapter of Pink Heals. You can read more about my charity of choice in a recent blog by clicking Pink Heals. I received a number of awesome emails with wonderful stories about how their mother or how being a baseball Mom changed their life for the better. I am still collecting stories for this book, but in the short term, I would like to publish the set of emails that I received. The first letter was written by myself, Noel P. Roby, about 20 years ago for a Mother’s Day gift to my awesome Baseball Mom, Joanne Roby. She had it framed and it still resides in the hallway of her upstairs, along with hundreds of other photos of myself and my family at games, graduations, swim meets, brownie meetings, family reunions, essentially pointing out just how active and involved she has been in my life and my family’s life.
The first letter I received was from Stephanie Ferreira, who wrote to me about her son’s experience with King Philip Little League and sent me a few photos of her family as well:
I wanted to share a what it means to me to be a baseball mom…my oldest son, who is now 13, started playing baseball for King Phillip Little League (Bristol) when he was 6, his younger sister and brother have literally grown up at the baseball field. Weekends from April to August are spent packing up coolers, sunshades, extra drinks, snacks, sunscreen, second uniforms, toys to keep the little ones entertained, chairs, blankets, and in the colder months hats and gloves, and occasionally even a portable heater (it was a cold April that year!) For me, the time leading up to games involves planning out where the closest playground is for the younger kids to keep busy, packing enough layers of clothing for a family of 5 for those colder nights, Google searching where we can stop for quick dinner on the way home or grab take out in between games, making sure we have cash for the concession stand (his sister and brothers favorite part of baseball so far!), and of course-scoping out where the closest available restroom will be.
Watching my son and his teammates hit the field with excitement, celebrating a win or consoling him after a tough loss, the post-game hug is what I look forward to most. At 13, this has turned more into a side hug-but I will take it! Watching the game alongside other families and baseball moms (even if it’s from 6 feet apart) brings me so much joy. My heart is on the field not just in my son but in his teammates too, they all become “our players.” When I am cheering for my son after a base hit or an incredible catch, looking around, there are other moms cheering just as loud, as if he were their own.
In July of 2015, at the age of 8, my son was scheduled for open heart surgery, which meant he would miss his summer of baseball. To say he was disappointed was an understatement. I don’t even think he was worried about the surgery but more so missing his friends and baseball. Our town and close by town of Middletown organized an exhibition game just for him. They did this so he would have a chance to play a game before he had to be out for the rest of the season. As a mom, this made my heart swell, this is what it’s about; our community, a sense of togetherness, other families and moms along with us in our journey. During all these highs and lows, being a baseball mom has gotten me through some of my hardest days as a mom. Looking forward to game day, watching him work to regain his strength to play, hitting the field after his surgery motivated me to stay positive, to see the bright side. Post-surgery he was back on the field in 8 weeks, I was not ready, but he was! Three years later in July of 2018, on the exact anniversary of his surgery, he had the honor of throwing out the first pitch to kick off the 9-11 year old RI State Championship playoffs, which his team went on to win!
Rain or shine, in happiness and times of worry, this is what it means to me to be a baseball mom, I will always be his biggest fan.
The next email I received was from Tracey Colucci. Tracey is part of an awesome group of parents I befriended during the 2018 Coventry Little League run to the Little League® World Series. She, along with a host of parents, shared such incredible photos and insights during that memorable run to Williamsport, PA. Here is Tracey’s email and some photos she shared:
In our home, baseball all started with my Memere (Anthony’s Great Grandma). Teaching Anthony at a young age the game, showing him how to slide into home plate across my kitchen floor, how to swing a bat in her living room, and how to field a ball starting with a glove he got in his Easter basket. At 90, she even surprised us and showed up at the 2018 Little League World Series in Williamsport to see her guy play and cheer on the Coventry Little League team!!! At most games, you will see her sitting behind home plate watching Anthony catch, pitch, play infield, and hit while having her radio on listening to the Boston Red Sox game. She always has a smile on her face at a ball field and most know her…always greeting her!!! Thanks Mem for being such an inspiration to Anthony…to work hard and play great ball!!!! She is determined to live to see him play high school ball then college ball!!!! For me, she has taught me to just love the game… To sit back and enjoy watching my son play ball!!! Mem…You are truly amazing!!!”
Here are some photos of her at the field this past season. Because of COVID-19, she could only come to a few games for Anthony’s travel team but was at every Coventry Babe Ruth game behind home plate cheering all the boys on. And I attached one photo that the Providence Journal took the night of the 2018 Coventry Little League Pep Rally…sending our boys off to Bristol, CT as the RI State Champions… Who knew that night they would go on to win the New England title and participate in a dream come true for all Little Leaguers..play in the 2018 Little League World Series!!! The photo…my son and I…totally captures our love and excitement for the game! And my love for my son!!! So many incredible memories and many more to come…all because of a baseball diamond!!!!
The next letter was from another Rhode Island Baseball Mom and Super Fan. Sherry Broomfield’s son Mason is/was an INCREDIBLE baseball talent at such at young age. Mason grew up playing for Warwick Continental American Little League and Sherry and her husband Eric are part of a very enthusiastic group of baseball parents, who show up in massive numbers to cheer on their families. Here is Sherry talking about what baseball means to her:
I grew up a baseball fan. Raised by my grandfather who was a huge fan, we were always watching baseball. Been to hundreds of games and still cry every time they play “Take Me Out To The Ball Game”. When my husband and I were pregnant with our first child and deciding what to name him, we used to scream out different names pretending like we were cheering from the bleachers just to see how it sounded. We knew we would have a ball player one day, but we never could have imagined all that we’ve experienced as a baseball family in just a short time….
Our son Mason is now 13 years old. He started playing T-ball at 5 and from the very beginning he was a natural. He went on to play little league at Warwick Continental and we were blessed to be on so many awesome teams with great families, players and coaches throughout his little league career but through it all, we will never forget the Summer of 2018…
Mason’s 10-year-old Little League All Star Team was a force to be reckoned with. They won their division title, then went on to win the RI State Tournament and finally moved onto the Regional Tournament which just so happened to be hosted by Cranston Western Little League that Year. What an experience for both the kids and their families. For one summer, these kids were celebrities. Articles in the local papers almost every day, interviewed by local TV stations, a huge regional tournament party hosted at the Crown Plaza in Warwick, and followed – literally – by the entire state of RI. The community started to know our boys by name; even their nicknames, followed their journey on Facebook and even came out to games to cheer them on!
Our family started to have our own “superstitious” rituals during this tournament. Before every game, I made Mason scrambled eggs with cheese. His last name on his All-Star Jersey was spelled wrong (Broomfeild) but after they won the first game, we decided not to bother having it changed because it must have been good luck. At every game, my husband and I had to sit on opposite sides of the bleachers (mostly so I didn’t kill him). All the parents wore WCA T-shirts with their kid’s name and held up handmade signs with our player’s faces on them. It was magic – the whole experience was just magic.
More than just the short-lived celebrity status that Mason had, he was part of something special that summer. It was the moment that he really learned what it was like to be part of a team and how to succeed in high pressure situations. They ended up losing in the semi-final game but at that point, winning or losing didn’t even matter. We were just so proud of Mason and his team and so thankful for this once in a lifetime experience.
When you sign your kid up for Little League, no one tells you how lightning fast it is going to go by or how you shouldn’t miss even one game because before you know it, it will be over. Baseball is still our life and will always be but there is just something about Little League that nothing can compare to. Enjoy every minute!
The next email is from Jenna Germano, and her story about her son Elliot who played for Mt. Pleasant Little League:
My son, Elliott, has always been a pretty anxious kid. It was at its worst between the ages of 2-4. Even then, though, he liked baseball. And he was good- we had to stop pitching even a whiffle ball to him in our backyard because he could hit it over the neighbor’s house by the time he was 4. That year, he wanted to play baseball for Mt Pleasant Little League. Elliott and I walked from the house to the field to get him signed up. He was going to play T-ball on the Yankees with Coach Dave. It was so exciting! Until it was time to play. Elliott wouldn’t leave the dugout for the first couple of practices. When he did agree to play in games, I had to go into the field with him (and literally just stand behind him). Coach Dave was super patient with Elliott and let him take his time. Because no one could ever guess if Elliott was going to play or agree to go up to bat, Coach Dave always had him bat last. The downside to this was that if Elliott agreed to bat, with me standing with him at the T and helping him swing the bat, he would have to run around all of the bases because he was the last hitter.
One game in particular, Elliott and I went up to bat. We hit the ball and started to run. He was holding onto my shirt chasing me around the bases yelling and crying, “Mommy. Mommy. I want to tell you something”. I kept running and encouraged him we were almost done. When we finally got to home plate, I asked him what he wanted to tell me. Tears in his eyes, he said to me, “I wanted to tell you I didn’t want to run”. Baseball mom fail.
Elliott went on to play through Farm League and made it to the Majors. I was even a bench coach one year for Spring and Fall Ball (ultimate baseball mom position). But The whole family tells the story of his first T-ball season, and “I wanted to tell you I didn’t want to run”. Only this baseball mom could have gotten him through his first season.
The next email I received was from Karen Hersum. Karen and I sat in the same bleachers for years at Wilson Park and other North Kingstown baseball fields cheering on our sons. Her son, Henry and my oldest son, Spencer, are the same age and played on various Minors and Majors teams with and against each other. My son finished Little League at around age 12 and moved on to master the guitar, drums, piano, and just about any musical instrument you can think of. Henry, has moved on to being a Major League baseball top prospect and will be attending Old Dominion University on a baseball scholarship. Here is more from Karen along with some photos she shared:
The final email I received was from my longtime friend and former teammate at North Kingstown High School, Jeff Bush. I actually played a year or two with Jeff’s brother Eric, who was a fantastic 3 sport athlete at NKHS, then a few years with Jeff who is 2 years younger than Eric. I recently met their younger brother Alex during a summer baseball camp I helped run in North Kingstown. Great baseball family here in Rhode Island for many, many years. Here is more from Jeff:
If you grew up with a baseball mom in Rhode Island, then you know what true dedication is. I was one of those lucky players. I don’t remember my mom, Pam Bush, ever missing a game. From Little League and Babe Ruth, American Legion, North Kingstown High School and on through Rhode Island College and Summer league my mother was there. Very early on my mom jumped in and learned every aspect of the game. She started keeping score while sitting on freezing cold aluminum bleachers during Little League games in Jamestown. Her love for the game and her devotion to watching all 3 of her boys advance up the ranks was and still is a love that only a mother can provide. Along with my dad John, they would pack up the car and drive to away games, enduring the cold March winds at The Coast Guard Academy or the muggy nights at Cardines Field in Newport.
Growing up, we were a baseball family. From early spring to fall ball, she was there. We were fortunate to have my dad as a coach in Little League and Babe Ruth and my mom was there, every step of the way. She made it her mission to learn baseball strategy and what each of our strengths were. She knew balls and strikes as well as when the time was right for a hit and run, tag-up and a squeeze bunt. I could always hear her words of encouragement when things weren’t going well, and she was never afraid to let the umpires know when they had blown a call.
Our games took us all over New England and that often meant we were returning home late. Victorious on not, my mom would pour her love into a great home cooked meal. We would sit around the dining table, long into the night, rehashing the game: which players had a great game, who missed a play or discussing the conditions of the field. She knew it all. As I got older and played in the Sunset League, you could find us at the Old Mudville Pub, a true baseball hangout, for our post-game dinners. The crowd was always a mix of tourists, locals and ball players wearing sweaty, dirt-covered uniforms with pride. Due to its proximity to Cardines Field in Newport and the opportunity to watch a game while practically sitting on the right field line, The Mudville Pub was a second home to my mom. She knew all the players and never missed the opportunity to invite a teammate to join us for dinner.
The importance of having a mom so deeply involved in my baseball career was perhaps taken for granted in the early years, because it was a given that she would be there. I quickly learned that other players did not have that, and I knew that I had a special mom, a baseball mom. Thank you, mom, for your love, for your dedication, for your passion for the game and for your unwavering support. You made me a better player and for that, I will always think fondly of my days on the field. Play Ball!
Truly, from the bottom of my heart, I want to say Thank You to Stephanie, Tracey, Sherry, Jenna, Karen, and Jeff for sharing these AMAZING stories about their AMAZING Rhode Island Baseball Experiences. Rhode Island Baseball Moms are Cool and I can’t wait to hear more stories in the coming months. For now, I am so happy to publish these stories. I will be attaching a donation link to the Rhode Island Chapter of the Pink Heals in my Facebook page. If you would like to donate to this cause on Mother’s Day, please do so.
And Happy Mother’s Day to all the great Moms out there, including my wife Rachel, my sister Erin, my sister in law Lara, and especially my cool baseball Mom, Joanne Roby.
The RIBBE is The Rhode Island Baseball Experience. It is promoting the game of baseball here in the great state of Rhode Island for the entire baseball world to see. The RIBBE is positive stories, photos, videos, and responsible social media posts. The RIBBE is an information resource for families looking for an AAU team or a summer camp or a great place to buy a first baseman’s mitt. The RIBBE is a network of coaches, tournament directors, parents, leagues, and baseball junkies whose passion of the game of baseball is unquestioned. I believe that providing expert analysis, information and directions to ballfields, and coaching advice from some of the top RI baseball minds will help promote the game of baseball here in RI to a whole new level.