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Friendships mean more than actual games
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For the first time in quite a while, I’m not running around to take my son, Josh, to baseball.
He opted not to play this year due in part to school-related activities. Josh also mentioned that he didn’t particularly enjoy the game as much last year as most of his friends chose to play on travel squads.
I’ve respected his decision. But at first it wasn’t easy.
As a creature of habit, I’ve looked forward to this time of year, sitting on my foldout chair, hanging out with the other Pony League parents including those I’ve known for several years, and snacking on sunflower seeds.
Our league also entailed some occasional traveling to places such as Galt, Elk Grove, Sacramento, and Pittsburg.
I still count my lucky stars about just missing being stranded in the East Bay community of Pittsburg a few years ago when all access roads were closed off following a gunning down of a local police officer. We had a game at City Park that was called after a half-inning of play because of rain, resulting in most of the team going out for pizza.
However, the timing worked out rather nicely for me given that I was scheduled to pick up my mom at the Oakland International Airport on this very day.
Later, I got word of what happened from coaches and some of the parents at practice. They talked about the nightmarish circumstances of trying to get home from Pittsburg, with police doing their duty with a killer on the loose by stopping traffic and checking out anyone leaving the area.
Perhaps our best time together was the Rebel squad of two years ago. The team had been formed as way of getting some distance from our league president, who, in the wild world of youth sports, supposedly had his own agenda.
We had a fun year as many of the parents and players got along. We even found reasons outside of youth baseball to get together, including a father-son outing to attend the MLB All-Star Fan fest held that year in San Francisco.
I’ll certainly miss seeing many of these familiar faces. Yet I won’t miss the politicking that’s all too common in youth sports.
Josh is growing up. Next year, he’ll be in high school.
As with most parents at this Stockton parochial school, I’ve been involved with his eighth-grade class and the upcoming pomp and circumstances planned for the coming weeks.
We’ve had a series of meeting in the past months, discussing plans for the farewell class trip to the Santa Clara amusement theme park, Great America, via BART (I’ve been recruited to serve as a chaperon), baccalaureate, and the legacy gift, just to name a few.
As people grow, so do chapters in their lives.
 Looking back, I can look fondly on Josh’s years involved in youth sports. I also had the honor of serving as an assistant coach on his CYO basketball team.
It’s not the games that I will remember most but rather the friendships.
At least we’ll always share those old stories.
 To reach reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail