That lone, solitary figure you see leaning on the left field fence at Pawnee Park Field is me.

Baseball season is over, and I have nothing to do.

First high school season ended, and now Legion baseball is over, and I have no idea what to do with my time until next spring.

I go through this every year, and even though my son, Alek, played more games this year than any other season, it still seems to have ended too soon.

Months of practices and games and now nothing. No slowing down to make my transition easier. In fact, it is harder to go cold turkey because the legion season built itself up for the district tournament and what we hoped would be a run in the state tournament.

But instead, it all came to a crashing halt Monday night in Grand Island, Neb., the seventh game in six days.

Like devouring a pie before dieting, there was a glut of baseball and now nothing.

The team turned in uniforms Tuesday, but what about the parents? What do we turn in? Where's the gentle slowdown to the end of the season? Where's my counselor?

Every day I had a purpose. I had a schedule, and I had a son waiting to get to the ballpark.

I knew I had to be home at a certain time so Alek could get to practice or a game.

I knew I had to pack the cooler with Gatorade, water and sandwiches.

I knew at the end of the day I'd probably have to wash his uniform. Yes, I wash uniforms, and no, I don't use bleach.

Now I go home, and I just stay there. No practices. No games. No cooler to pack. No dirty uniforms.

What am I supposed to do now, follow the A's?

I have to find a new routine, but it won't be the same without baseball. It never is.

As much as I miss showing up to watch the end of practice and the anticipation of games, as much fun as it is to watch these kids compete, as much as I enjoyed the ballpark popcorn, the void runs deeper.

There is a camaraderie the parents and grandparents develop during a long spring and summer.

You get used to seeing the same faces at practices and games, rehashing the last game and talking about the next one. We discuss how our kids are doing and the big wins and the ones that got away.

You appreciate the time and energy the coaches put in to help make these kids better ballplayers.

You forge friendships that years from now we'll all play the remember-when game and laugh at the same things that made us laugh this season.

You get to the know the other kids a little better and enjoy watching them learn to the play the game and get better. In a sense, they all become your kids.

The best part is we get a few more years together to share more experiences.

I look forward to seeing how these kids develop and get better, and that means good thing for Columbus baseball.

Until then, if you're in the area of Pawnee Park Field, and the snow starts to fly, stop by and throw a blanket around me, it's a long time until spring.

Patrick Murphy, of Columbus, Neb., is the former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.