The best part wasn’t the look of pride and joy on faces too often unfamiliar with those emotions.
It wasn’t the feeling of ownership, and someone cares about me, that was obvious as they would unzip their new equipment bags and pull out their new bats, gloves, hats and jersey/T-shirts.
Nor was it running free on the field they’d only seen their Lancaster JetHawks play on previously.
No, the best part about the Lancaster JetHawks Youth Baseball League were the hugs each player gave his or her team coach at the end of the day.
This would have been the third summer of the LJYBL.
Already it was something the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Antelope Valley looked forward to eagerly.
The people who cling to the long-since-disproved urban legend of this Valley’s bigotry and insensitivity should only have attended the club’s annual Hot Stove League banquet.
They would have seen Club President Andy Dunn cajoling, hectoring and inspiring thousands of dollars out of Valley businesses and JetHawks fans.
Those miniature fielding gloves each child was given?
They cost $40.
Yet every child got one.
It was something to behold, this newcomer to our Valley who grew up with Baseball Hall of Famer Tim Raines on the other end of the continent, immediately embracing and embodying everything that we’ve held good and dear and noble in these parts for over a century.
Dunn and Raines grew up in Sanford, Florida, the first place Jack Roosevelt Robinson played a spring training game as a Brooklyn Dodger.
Somehow, that fits.
Each session on the field was followed by a Baseball Smorgasbord: hot dogs, hamburgers, nachos, fresh fries, peanuts, ice cream, crackerjack and soda pop.
Before the Health Department erupts, know something.
Many of those kids said it was the only hot meal they were served all week.
Baseball will always be the ultimate family game.
Along the way, though, it does give us less-than-flattering progress reports on parenthood.
In this case, what the Lancaster JetHawks Youth Baseball League gave most of all was hope.
These kids knew they mattered. That someone cared about them, and put their money where their heart was.
So what that they might not ever meet their benefactors, who might not even look or sound like them.
No one wastes time choosing sides in this Valley when something needs to be done.
Well, with one exception.
We’re all JetHawks.
We want our babies to grow up to be JetHawks.
And that will never change.