Teammates for life
Posted on October 10 2017
“When Dad had rotator cuff surgery, Mom was the one playing catch with me, helping keep my arm in shape.” Stephen Lockhart said. Helping coach his team, one of the few female assistant coaches, his mom, Susan Lockhart was known for helping provide a ride to practice or to a tournament. She would take Stephen or his siblings to the batting cages and patiently stay there until they were ready to leave.
For 32 years she was an elementary teacher by trade and knew that some of life’s most teachable moments come during the most difficult circumstances. She was always looking for opportunities to use their shared love of baseball to help educate her children, usually by example.
“Just like the well-known saying, ‘One of the greatest assets a human can have is being able to accept and deal with failure. Baseball teaches that every day.’ Mom made sure my brother and sister and I knew this well. She used the game to teach us how to be a teammate, how to win with dignity and lose with grace.”
In December of 2016, Susan was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. As soon as she heard the diagnoses, she was confident that, whatever happened, God was with her and He would take care of the family. Tough times were just another way for her to live her faith out loud.
“A verse that Mom relied on and leaned on through all her circumstances was Jeremiah 29.11,” Stephen said. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (NIV).
In the midst of her fight, Susan pre-ordered Stephen a copy of America at the Seams as a birthday gift. He was in love with the project the moment he saw it.
“When I first saw the artwork and read some of the stories, it blew my mind,” Stephen said. “Mom was the first person I called and she immediately knew what the visuals and stories meant to me.”
Stephen was well aware of the life lessons that come through the game of baseball; his mom made sure to reinforce them at almost every practice and every game. Where some people might just think “big deal,” Stephen immediately knew the heart behind the stories. Baseball and family perfectly describe his life.
After seven months of battling, Susan passed away.
Two days after Susan’s funeral, Stephan played baseball with his men’s league team and had the self-admitted worst game of his life. “I don’t accept losing and failure, but I was dealing with it. Mom always said you can’t always succeed, but you can always have fun. Some of her last words to me were, ‘Just keep smiling.’ And I was thinking about that on the field, as frustrating as it was, Mom was still teaching me. I still got to play the game with my baseball family. I still got hugs and beers with friends afterward. I wasn’t expecting the lesson, but that’s just baseball.
At that time, America at the Seams had yet to publish. Stephen knows that his copy of America at the Seams will be a gift from his mother that he treasures for the rest of his life.
“Mom taught us that life is short. The same effort you put into baseball should be the same effort you put into your whole life,” her son, Stephen said. “Love the people around you and trust your heart.”
Note from Nate: You might be surprised how often we receive amazing stories like this one. Times that baseball is at the fabric of families, communities, and relationships. I received this story a few months ago and waited for the right time to post it. I believe now is the time. Like most families, my family has also been directly affected by breast cancer. Sadly, it is a common story. Too common.
October is breast cancer awareness month and we just released a new product to celebrate our survivors and remember those who have lost the battle to this terrible disease. The new product is a rose gold bangle with a circular leather cutout from an actual used baseball. $5 from each bangle will go directly to Stand Up To Cancer, a charity that continues the battle to cure cancer. Thank you for supporting us as we honor our family and friends who have been affected by breast cancer.