I still remember the way my childhood mitt felt on my hand.
It was "signed" by former Atlanta Braves star Dale Murphy, which makes absolutely no sense for a kid who grew up in suburban Chicago as a Cubs fan. Plus, I was only six when Murphy retired from baseball and almost his entire prime was before my lifetime, so it's not even like I was capable of truly appreciating him as a player.
But I refused to get a new glove. It was far too big for me in Little League, but I insisted on using it and must've looked pretty comical as an undersized kid playing middle infield in T-Pitch with a mitt about three sizes too big.
I loved that glove. Every time I looked at it or put it on, it reminded me of going out in the backyard with my mom to play catch or play "The Inning Game" where I pretended I was all nine fielders desperately trying to get a bunch of invisible runners and hitters out.
My dad spent a lot of time coaching my Little League teams and supporting me even on the teams he didn't coach, but my true passion for the game of baseball originated from my mom.
She was — and still is — a diehard Cubs fan. To the point where I had to talk her off the ledge a bit last week during the Cubs' recent struggles.
Mother's Day is always a baseball barometer of sorts for me each spring. It was the end of my college club seasons and in the years since I've graduated has now been simultaneously a checkpoint in the MLB season and a harbinger to my own summer season about to begin.
Every year, I request off work for Mother's Day — even when the Cubs are in town.
I wasn't at Wrigley Field for Javy Baez's walk-off homer to finish off a sweep of Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals last year. I was sitting on the couch at my mom's house watching her run in from preparing food in the kitchen and do a little fist pump, just a few feet from the pink Mother's Day bat my sisters and I got her years earlier as a gift:
Baseball isn't just another sport to my mom and as a byproduct, it's not just another sport to me.
I've made baseball not only my career, but my life. This summer will mark my first season playing the game as a 30-year-old, one of the goals I set for myself when I was still using that Dale Murphy glove. Next step: Playing at age 40.
My mom just got a new job this month and one of the first things she told me about it was her hours are more flexible and the office is closer to my summer baseball field, so she hopes to be able to make nearly every game as she has every summer since I started playing Little League.
Ms. Andracki serves as "Team Mom," keeping the scorebook on a nightly basis and she even showed up with Mondos last year in the playoffs as a throwback to a simpler time.
It was my mom who taught me how to keep score and helped me understand the game that has grown into the backbone of my life.
For my extended family, Mother's Day is the day we all get together to pay tribute to the all the moms.
For me, Mother's Day is an opportunity to honor the woman who shaped my career, my hobbies, my life.
And the best way to honor my mom is with baseball, particularly Cubs baseball.