What’s in a Name?

Many of us retired folks now have grandchildren. One of the fascinating rituals you observe as a grandparent is watching your kids go through the process of choosing names for their children. For whatever reason, naming a child now appears to be one of life’s heaviest burdens. It is an agonizing process that often takes months and is sometimes not resolved until the very last moment.

Don’t get me wrong. Naming a child is a very important responsibility and I’m glad the young parents of today take it seriously. Of course, certain recent celebrities must have had one too many when they named their children. They have presented us with Apple, Ocean, Kal-El, Audio Science, Moon Unit, Pilot Inspektor, and my personal favorite, Moxie Crimefighter. Why the topic of “What’s in a name?” Let me explain.

With all  the devastating news from around the world this week, it’s been difficult to keep a positive attitude. While I typically look to the future for inspiration and motivation, this week I found myself in a reflective mood. For whatever reason I was remembering the twenty-plus years I spent coaching young kids in baseball. Most of them would now be in their 30’s and 40’s, and it made me smile to think of all the joy and wonderful memories from those years.

One of those boys in particular came to mind. It was long ago and well before any of my own sons were old enough to play ball. A friend called me one day and said he had just been contacted by an official in a  baseball league in which all the fathers (coaches) had selected their teams. A number of boys were not selected, and not surprisingly, they were mostly boys from single mother families. He asked me if I would help him coach a team so these boys could play. I said I would be happy to help and we coached those boys for the next two years.

One of these young boys, whose name I have forgotten (you will soon understand why), could not stop talking and asked a continuing stream of questions. It was obvious he simply wanted attention. He was quite small for his age and his mother had purchased a very inexpensive but much too large fielder’s glove. When he bent down to field a ball, I taught him to keep the glove on the ground to make the play. He actually did quite well and I always complimented him to build his confidence. As time went on, I told the team he was like a vacuum cleaner and nothing could get by him. Then it happened. One day I began to call him “Scoop.” Kids being kids, the rest of the team picked up on it and he was “Scoop” from then on.

My friend and I had a team policy that made sure all the boys got to pitch at least once during the season. One day late in the season, at a practice before Saturday’s game, one of the mothers asked to speak to me. She explained that her  son was scheduled to pitch on Saturday and he was very worried. I assured her he would do fine. She said, “No, that’s not the problem. You see, everyone, all the boys on the team, the kids at school, family and teachers now call him “Scoop,” and he’s afraid if he pitches, they won’t call him that any more.”  She went on to tell me how much more confidence he had and how he had stopped trying to gain attention all the time. Scoop’s mom was almost in tears. So was I.

What’s in a name? I’m not sure. Gaining an identity you’re proud of and having people who care is clearly more  important. I hope Scoop went on to great things. I do know on a grey and dreary day, when the whole world seemed to be coming apart, his memory gave me a wonderful smile. Keep that glove on the ground Scoop.  

Worthy Cause

If you’ve read my blog before, you know I don’t use it to promote web sites or causes unless I know they are quite worthy of support. For the last couple of years, our son David has put together a team of runners who raise money for organ donations. I’ve seen recent stories highlighting the large and growing number of people in this country who are in desperate need of an organ transplant. It’s heartbreaking for them, and miraculous for those who receive help in time. One of the stories I recently watched was about the NFL player Chris Henry. Chris was killed in an accident and his mother had the courage to authorize donation of his organs. They went to four persons in need of transplants, and ironically, our son David’s wife Michelle is a nurse at the hospital where those procedures took place. Please take a look at David’s web site, and if you can help, I know you will be helping someone in need. Many of you have given your support to David’s team in past years and he is very grateful. Thank you for supporting such a worthy cause.

                                                             Click Here:  Team Dean Minus Dean Plus 12