When this game is a game

Call it pee-wee ball, mighty might’s, or whatever – baseball with youngsters who are the youngest are the best.
I sat in a lawn chair last night and watched one of the greatest displays of “fun” baseball, I’ve seen in a long, long time.

  • Youngster hits a beauty, the first baseman goes over and make a blind stab at catching the ball, the ball tips off the fingers of the mitt, he then picks the ball up and rockets it to third (???) why…who knows… no body there…. the third baseman runs over picks up the ball and rockets it back to first, the first baseman sees his dad sitting on the side and rockets the ball to him …. In the park home run! The batter’s mother starts yelling… home run Alan… run… run. The youngster (batter) starts jumping up and down… and in the process… jumps up and down over every single base going from first to third … even missing home plate. There’s a real hush in the crowd… both coaches start rubbing the top of their heads…the one umpire… a high school youngster, pulls down his mask and doesn’t say a word… but… “batter up.”
  • Bases loaded on walks … then … a lady’s lawn chair collapses, and in the process pins her to the ground and gets her squeezed between the folding parts of the lawn chair. She’s very animated trying to get out of the lawn chair, then two men try to help her, then three, then five. Finally, the lady gets unstuck, sits up on the lawn while someone offers her a lawn chair. Attention back on the field …. no one’s on base … their all home. The only umpire on the field … the high school kid (again) failed to call time because of the commotion/distraction, while the little tikes rounded the bases and stole home.
  • A pass ball by the catcher got the ball stuck under the cage frame of the backstop fence, then another, then another. Time was called so one of the fathers could dig the balls from under the fence. When folks tried to focus their attention back on the field, half of the team up to bat, plus four of the fielding time, were standing in line at an ice cream truck in the parking lot.
    Time was called … heck … even the umpire (high school kid, again) had a fudge sickle.
  • A base runner from third slides home on a play, and is called out. The base runner gets up and starts to argue the called, but the umpire (high school kid, again) folds his arms and will have none of it. Then, SHE takes off her helmet … the prettiest little girl with a blonde ponytail and the biggest brown eyes starts to plead, and plead, and plead. The umpire (guess who), doesn’t stand so tall now… nor is he still folding his arms will a look of confidence. I’m sitting next to one of the dads, and he leans over to me and says… “this ought to be good… that kid is in way over his head.” Another one leans over his shoulder and says …” that little girl … they learn real early… don’t they.”
  • A youngster gets up to bat and the bat is way too heavy for him. After swinging like a gate, twice, he steps out of the batter’s box, takes a deep breath, then steps back in. The kid doesn’t stand a chance, and everyone knows it. Then to everyone’s surprise, he turns the bat upside down, takes a swing and actually hits the ball! Then, while his parents and some others are cheering their hearts of for the little guy … he runs to third…
  • There was one kid who was really belting the daylights out of the ball all afternoon. The youngsters just seemed to have it – you could tell. As the game progressed, the mosquitoes started to come out. His team was down by one run, bottom of the fifth. His mother runs over with a can of OFF mosquito repellent and starts spraying his arms… then tells him to close his eyes … then gives him a shot in the face with a quick spray. Now doesn’t the kid open one eye… you guessed it, right in the window. His turn up to bat, he can’t see squat, takes three strikes … not once but every time up to bat.
  • The game ends, the umpire (guess who) goes over to a bench, gets paid and everyone head to the parking lot. I notice two legal size white sheets of paper in a 55 gal steel drum used for trash – a scorebook page from each bench. Just out of curiosity I pick them out and look — not a single score, nothing, just player’s names in order of up to bat. I took those sheets and brought them home, got them thumbtacked on my wall in my den. Just a reminder of what this game can be… when it’s a game.

I’ve often said all youth baseball coaches should be required to watch one T-ball game each year - really puts perspective on things.