Finding Mudville

  • Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dan Brown/Independent -- R.J. Reid hits the first of two home runs during Berkeley’s Pink Game played in honor of her mother, Norma Prioleau. --

Tom Hanks said there was no crying in baseball.
While he said this in the movie “A League of their Own” about women’s professional baseball during World War II, Hanks said nothing about crying in softball.
Tears here are okay. Especially when they’re shed in honor of one’s mother, and especially when her daughter hits not one, but two home runs during the game played for her memory.
In the third annual Berkeley-Timberland “Pink Game,” in honor of cancer awareness, and specifically Norma Prioleau, the late mother of Lady Stag catcher R.J. Reid who lost her battle to cancer three years ago, the senior catcher honored her mother in the best way she knew how. 
Prior to the game Reid released a set of pink balloons in her mother’s memory, sang the National Anthem with teammate Katie Marsch, then promptly drilled a pair of two-run homers as Berkeley downed the Lady Wolves 17-1 in five innings.
Reid is soft spoken and keeps her comments to “thank you,” and a nod yes to the question as to whether playing in honor of her mother was both easy and hard.
She shed a few quiet tears as she watched the balloons drift skyward then let her bat do the talking.
The two homers for Reid were her second and third of the season, and likewise the second and third in “Pink Games” played in honor of her mother. Three years ago during the first Pink Game, Reid drilled a long three-run homer on the first pitch she saw.
“She saves her biggest hits for her biggest games,” Grooms said.
An often overused term of mine is how in times of raw and intense emotion one’s throat collapses like a cheap straw.
After Reid’s first homer, a towering big fly to straightaway center field, my throat gave a little squeeze and I was thankful to be standing down the first baseline out of the way of the crowd.
I sniffed back those pesky allergies as the highlight-yellow softball disappeared far beyond the 215 sign to dead center.
After the second homer, a low 3-iron shot to left, I looked up at Lady Stags Assistant Coach Butch Svagerko as he uttered just one word, “Wow.”
I hate to throw Butch under the man bus here, but his eyes were already wet and glistening. So were mine, along with the whole cheap straw thing with the throat.
He shook his head and put a fist to his chest and said, “That just gets you right here, right in the heart.”
I couldn’t answer because the first word out of my mouth would have been “SOB!”
No little girl should have to lose her mom at such a tender age. So much is missed. Your heart breaks for her and you just want to give her a hug and say, “Bless your heart.”
After Reid’s second homer there wasn’t a dry eye in the Berkeley house. Even mine.
What game can be bigger than playing in honor of her mother’s memory?
Reid is one of those soft spoken types and doesn’t have much to say, but her quiet tears, her voice in song, and the thunder of her bat speak loudest.

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