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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Play Ball, T-Ball That Is

Play Ball, T-Ball, That Is!

Well, I never thought I would do it. I mean, go to a little league ball game.

To be honest, I always disliked the competitiveness parents forced on their youngster as a means to relive their own youth, to accomplish what they had never achieved.

And don’t tell me I’m wrong about that. Too many parents go nuts at these games, abusing not only the kids, the other parents, the umpires, but the very concept of the activity itself, the ball game, which is supposed to be fun.

Fun! That means kids enjoy it. To heck with the parents and family. Let them keep their mouths shut unless it is to cheer on the little ones. After all, that’s what all of this is supposedly about. Let the kids have fun and learn more about the game.

Our daughters were very active in extra-curricular school programs. To my relief, they never expressed interest in community programs like little league or whatever was available back in the eighties. I would have let them participate probably even though I abhorred the behavior of many parents whose youngsters participated.

Now, my feelings haven’t changed. I still believe these games are for the kids and not the mother who is a repressed cheerleader or the dad who is a frustrated quarterback.

The reason behind all this is the fact my five-year-old grandson, Keegan, started
playing T-Ball.

Don’t ask me to explain the game, because I can’t. It isn’t a game as much as it is an activity to accustom the little gals and guys to a more structured game. And believe me, with five and six-year-olds, it turns out to be more of an activity than a structured game.

Keegan, who has a remarkable attention span of ten seconds, plays for the Astros, a team that practices at Ridgewood Elementary on Merriman Street in Port Neches.

I can’t help admiring the coaches who patiently work with the kids who remind me of a flock of chickens after a single, frantic grasshopper.

Those guys have to have eyes not only the back of their heads, but above each temple and in the forehead.

A couple weeks back, the Astros played their first game. I say a game, but not really a game. Each team of twelve players batted around three times.

The score? Hey, take a guess. Forty-eight, forty-seven; thirty-two, thirty-two. The score wasn’t important. The kids had fun, and they learned a little about the game.
They learned you don’t run to third base when you hit the ball; you run to first.

They learned that a bouncing ball isn’t anywhere as easy to catch as it looks. And they learned you can’t be standing around shooting the breeze with a buddy and still snag a fly ball.

What I like about it is the batters get three balls. If they miss all three, the T-Ball is set up, and they hit it. Everyone gets to hit the ball and run—hopefully to first base, not second or third like one little squirt who cut across the infield from first to third and then home.

I couldn’t help noticing one of their favorite experiences in the game was sliding into a base. They slid even if the ball was still in center field. Some of their efforts were thwarted however when their shoes caught on the base, flipping the little fellows head over heels.

But they all came up laughing and holding up theirs hands signaling they were number one.

Keegan? Well, he did okay. He stopped the ball in the outfield once when it hit him and bounced off. A small guy, he runs hard, but his little legs don't cover a whole lot of ground very fast. His first two hits, he was thrown out at first, but his last time, he made it.

And to our delight and cheers, he, along with the other little ones raced around the bases. When he crossed home plate, he held up his hand, extending his first and last finger and laughing, “LSU”.

The crowd roared.

That’s how it should be.

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