After almost 22 years at this job, there can be some repetitive and mundane assignments at times.
As with any job, there’s stress and you can feel like a major burnout is a half step away or you catch yourself going through the motions.
Then again, every now and then, an assignment comes along that spurs me inside and keeps me going.
Over the last few years, that assignment has been PB Buddy Ball games. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a youth baseball league for physically and mentally challenged youngsters, with games held weekly at Poplar Bluff’s McLane Park.
The brainchild of Sonya Osborn, Alex Tinker, Laurie Coleman, Lisa Collins and Lorrie Edmundson Busse, Buddy Ball now is in its fifth season.
At the games, each team bats through its entire lineup twice and everyone scores. Volunteer helpers, or buddies (sometimes even relatives), assist the players in the field and at the plate.
The smiles, laughter and, yes, sometimes even a little bit of showboating, say it all — these kids have the time of their lives.
The best part? On the field, in the dugouts and even in the stands, there are no opponents, no adversaries, no animosity — only a genuine love and friendship between the players, their buddies and parents and those who come to watch.
It’s heartwarming to witness, and honestly, I think the general public could learn some valuable lessons at the games.
For the record, I have no stake in the league. For me, it’s simply about escaping a hectic lifestyle and seeing the joys of real life through the eyes of youngsters who don’t understand the world’s turmoils, but instead only care for others and enjoy what so many see as simple things.
If you haven’t been to a Buddy Ball game, I encourage you to do so. It might open your eyes, and if you’re up to it, I’m sure organizers would love to have more volunteers.
The season is short, at only five weeks, and the remaining games are scheduled for June 4, June 11 and June 18 at McLane Park and June 25 at the Poplar Bluff High School. Each game starts at 5:30 p.m. I hope to see you there.