Mama, I got to tell you, I didn’t have to wait to get a call from the Hall to tell me I was a Hall of Famer. You’ve been telling me since I was little.
You told me everything that’s ever happened in my life has happened. But, Mom, I’ve got to tell you. I have to apologize. I’m so sorry for the bumpy flight and the bumpy ride, but I got to tell you, Mama, it’s a smooth landing.
Sit down, Mama. You in the Hall of Fame.
Cris Carter, 2013 Hall of Fame Enshrinement Speech
Once a year, right before little league baseball season started, my mom would treat me to the best day of my pre-season preparation: buying a new bat.
On a particularly sunny Saturday in March, I remember jumping out of the car and racing into Modell’s sporting goods, making a beeline for the baseball aisles. Left-hand side, aisles three and four down, the bat section shone with promises of crushing home run balls and breaking opposing pitchers’ dreams.
Panting, I turned to my mom with gleaming eyes.
Pick a bat. She said.
Any bat?! I exclaimed — it felt like Christmas had come nine months early. I turned, searching for one bat in particular. My eyes darting back and forth, I found it. The bat. The orange, gray and white Lamborghini of youth baseball bats: the 2015 Easton Mako. It would be a dream to finally get one.
But then my mom flipped the price tag over.
Four-hundred dollars? she asked, eyebrows raised.
All I could offer in return was a sheepish grin.
Alright. Let’s pick a new bat.
Although my shoulders slumped a little, I might have already known that a $400.00 price tag was a long shot. And in all fairness, I wasn’t the home run type of hitter anyway. I was more of the single-up-the-middle-and-then-steal-a-base type.
Nevertheless, that moment encapsulates my mom through and through: Dedicated to making sure her son has anything he needs, but practical nonetheless.
And even now, as my time in organized sports has ended, memories like those stick out fondly. Because my mom wasn’t like any other mother in my hometown.
My mom is a single mom.
And a sports mom.
Gratitude is at the core of everything I say and feel today.
And no one deserves more appreciation than my mother, Georgia Taylor. I owe you everything, mom. I played 15 NFL seasons, but the toughest person I ever met in my life is right there. …
She was my teacher, she was my role model and she was my disciplinarian, as many of you guys can attest to. She taught me what it meant to work hard, and to never give up.
Mom, I thank you for that. I love you for that.
Jayson Taylor, 2017 Hall of Fame Enshrinement Speech
Where most fathers and sons can see eye to eye is the sports world. Perhaps not everyone, of course, but at the very least, for boys growing up in my hometown, sports were “dad’s territory.”
I’ve met enough men in their fifties trying to live out their dreams through their sons to know.
As I grew up playing sports, there was always one moment with teammates that struck me as inexplicably odd. It was, as I have coined it, “the parent talk.”
At some point during a season, inevitably, one of my teammates would ask me why it was only my mom dropping me off at practice, my mom showing up to cheer me on, my mom coaching me through at-bats.
Well, it’s just me and my mom, I would say each time.
Then would come the most inexplicable part of the interaction: the pity. The contorted faces, the frowns, the looks that said: Who do you play catch with, then?
It was a moment that only ever made me annoyed.
Yes, for me, being raised by a single mother — one who never played sports growing up — meant no tales of former home run glory, no regaling of game-winning goals.
My mom was a ballerina. And although baseball and ballet have their differences, she was as much of an athlete as any father. Just as committed, too.
We learned and grew in sports together. Both of our first pop-ups were thrown on the same day and each of our first ground balls were scooped during the same practice, but it didn’t matter.
Damn it if my mom didn’t throw every pop-up, and lace every practice ground ball any day that I asked.
Even on the days when she got off work exhausted, there was always 15 minutes of sports energy reserved for her son.
My community (and a broader society) seemed to consider my experience with sports as somehow different, somehow less than those around me. But I knew that it wasn’t the case. I had just as strong of a coach in my corner as anyone else — if not a stronger one.
Because my single mom is a sports mom.
I’d like to thank my momma, man. Look no further than my momma to find out where I get it from.
My passion. How hard I work. That comes from my mother. I watched her every day as a child. Get up, work her fingers to the bone to make sure that she provided for her family. For myself, my brother and my sister. Single parent household.
You hear people say that a woman can’t raise a man.
I call bullshit.
Charles Woodson, 2021 Hall of Fame Enshrinement Speech
Sports and single moms have a complicated relationship. There’s a reason why I was constantly asked questions about my parents throughout my upbringing, and why my answers always produced those pitying looks.
For all that the sports world loves a good single-mother story — who could forget Kevin Durant’s 2014 MVP speech? — it’s difficult to look past the fact that the sports world has, and still continues to, exclude women from actively and equally participating. The relationship between women and sports has been an antagonistic battle for acceptance and inclusion since the very beginning.
From an early age, men are taught that sports are their domain. The world around men continues to inundate us with the message that women’s sports are inherently inferior to men’s — if they even exist to begin with.
From disgraced former FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s misogynistic remarks, to the line — you throw like a girl — shouted in The Sandlot and echoed across little league parks everywhere, single moms are one part of a visible battle for equality that rages every day.
And that’s why, whenever I reflect on my own time with sports, or Charles Woodson’s, or Kevin Durant’s, or Jayson Taylor’s or Chris Carter’s — all raised by single mothers — I must acknowledge the women behind me, behind these athletes, behind countless others had to work harder than any man ever did.
Because although I won’t be giving a Hall of Fame speech anytime soon, I must acknowledge that my time in sports — and my life in general — wouldn’t be anything without my mom.
Her sacrifices, hard work and dedication every single day are what brought me to every practice, every game and every swing of the bat that I’ve ever taken.
My mom has the humility to tell you she’s not perfect — though to me, she is — but she has the confidence to let you know that she’s worked harder than anyone else ever has to give me every single thing I ever needed.
She may not have been at every game I ever played, but I always knew she was cheering for me.
For my mom, it was never truly about the Mako bat, or what I could do with it. She didn’t support my time in sports because she thought I would become a professional athlete, an athlete that would one day give a hall of fame speech . She supported my time in sports because she gave her son every opportunity to succeed and pursue his passions, whatever they may be.
Each and every time my mom cheered for me from the stands, she should have cheered for herself.
Because she’s a single mom, and she’s a sports mom.
My sports mom.