The month of May is upon us. The grass is greening and hydrangea blooms are large and blue in my yard. I have always loved the change of seasons and the longer, slower evenings in this month before the heat starts rising from the southern sidewalks and pop-up thunderstorms sends me inside the house. As with all changes, there comes moments that we as parents and grandparents, wish would stay the same. Alas, that will not happen.
As with most of you, I have begun the road I term as the last game. School hallways will fall silent, lockers will empty and I will turn out of the car line for the last time. One grandson will go to high school, one will start his senior year in college and one has left the locker room for the last time. I know many of you can relate. Pulling away from the stadium, as the lights go out, you will never return for a last game. Hearts are broken, tears are shed and oh, the good-byes, we can’t seem to say them.
All have a child or grandchild to brag on, and I am no different. I would like to freeze this moment in time, and I suppose that is why I am writing this. Pictures, hugs and exchange of cell numbers won’t do this justice. So, therefore, may I tell you about Cody Littlejohn? I hope you will read this and just for a few minutes you can help me freeze these last few moments.
Cody is a left fielder for Tennessee Tech University, a senior veteran. Seasons lost to COVID, games cancelled from thunderstorms and such, but Cody played 160 games with 100 starts between the infield, outfield and designated hitter. He was also recognized as both the Ohio Valley Conference’s Player of the Week and a Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week by Diamond Sports as announced by the two entities last Monday. On Tuesday, Cody added to these weekly honors and was recognized by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) as the National Hitter of the Week for the period ending May 23. I know each of you have had a child that started on the gridiron or fished or hit a tennis ball or made par on the golf course or mountain biked raced for a zillion miles. Yes, we all have been to that last game and besides, that is not the story I am trying to tell.
To me, all these stats and percentages are great but as a grandparent the story goes deeper. Suiting up in the purple and gold last weekend, Cody played his last games. His final game of this three game series was indeed filled with all of these numbers so important to coaches and teams: batting .556 for the weekend, with eight RBI’S, two doubles, a triple, three home runs and a slugging percentage of 1.278. However, it was Cody’s final game that sparked the greatest memories with the three homeruns and the triple to help Tech finalize their last victory of the season. Oh, add a stolen base and perfect defense during the week as well. So, there, I have told y’all all about it!
I know each and every one of you has a good story to tell about that “last game” of yours and if the paper had enough ink, I would tell them for you but we all know that can’t happen. What can happen is that I know where your hearts were as the lights were turned off for the last time. There is nothing easy about an empty tennis court or a calm swimming pool or bleachers sitting empty. The silence of a locker room with no cleats clicking or poms poms hanging lifeless on a shelf will be deeply missed. I feel your sadness and also wonder what we will do now on Friday nights and baseball weekends. We just turn and go home and wait for a phone call in the future. I hope they will call us, don’t you?
Cody, your last game was one that could only be dreamed about and in this case, talked about in the paper. So, cheers, to us parents and grandparents, we will wait for their call or visit. What memories we will talk about around the table!
To any of you that know Cody’s parents-Bill and Johanna (Gillis) Littlejohn — give them a call or a text. It was their last game too.
Carol Littlejohn, owner of Dixie Auto Parts, is an occasional contributor to The Dispatch. Her e-mail address is [email protected]