Murray, Robb

I think I was somewhere between Waconia and Prior Lake when the insanity started to kick in.

I’ll explain.

I’m the father of a girl who happens to be a Lancer. You know, the marching band that graces our parades and warms our hearts.

I’m also the father of a Mankato Royal, those proud boys of our local traveling baseball teams who hit ground balls, spit Ranch-flavored sunflower seeds and don’t go ANYWHERE without their ‘M’-emblazoned ball caps.

Together, these two groups hijacked my summer.

Have you ever seen a Lancer parade and practice schedule? Ever seen a Royals tournament schedule? Well, I can assure you, neither is meek, neither is timid, and neither apparently gives a hoot what the other is up to.

Double booking is the norm, so it was quite a puzzle many weekends over the past few months while we tried to figure out where the parade was, where the next tournament game was, what time I would have to leave to get to the second parade or the day’s third game and ... whew. It got to be a mess.

Which is where the insanity comes in.

We had a weekend about a month ago that produced a perfect storm. My day began in with a drive to Owatonna to watch the Lancers compete in a parade there. From Owatonna, I got in my car and drove north to Hugo where my nephew was having his high school graduation open house. Then it was off to Prior Lake for a Royals game. Then it was off to Waconia for another parade. Finally, home to Mankato, where my beagle waited with sad eyes and floppy ears.

If you don’t have kids, you’re probably thinking, “Seriously, I just think all this traveling is a little extreme. Why, in my day, we just played with the neighbors down the street and look at us, we turned out OK.”

And I get that. If someone had told me 10 years ago that traveling baseball would be a haze of hotel rooms, road trips and days filled with three or four baseball games in one day, I’d beg to have them shipped off to boarding school in order to maintain my peaceful summers. And a marching band? Please. Ten years ago, I’d have taken the fact that the Lancers were coming through as a good chance to run to the biffy.

But now? I’m a Lancer fanatic. Every time my daughter marched by playing her clarinet, it was all I could do to not start crying like a baby. And as for those tournaments, I could have used a few more to get my fill of America’s pastime. There’s nothing like watching your boy shag a fly ball or swat a base hit up the middle.

So on that day in June when I was criss-crossing the state in the name of my kids’ activities, I had this fear of missing something. Driving down the road, trying desperately to make that last parade in Waconia, I envisioned the Lancers marching by and me NOT being there to clap for my daughter.

That’s when I realized something: I don’t just love chasing my kids around from ball diamond to small-town main street, I NEED it. It’s become a drug.

And now I can see.

Insanity has consumed me. And I love it. Wake me up when my kids graduate.

Robb Murray is a Free Press staff writer. He can be contacted at 344-6386 or rmurray@mankatofreepress.com.

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