By Jody Worsham
All right reserved for singing lessons
"Take me out to the ball game…again
Take me out to the sand, dust, grit, hard bleachers, crowd
Buy me some peanuts, popcorn, sodas, snow cones, hot dogs, taffy, and Cracker Jacks
I don't care if I never come back
'Cause it's root root root for you little guy in the baggy pants,
And if he never hits who's to blame?
Cause its 1,2,3 swings at the pitch, then it's switch to the T
And you're back at Little League Ball Game!"
Yes, it's that time of year again…pollen, taxes, and Little League Baseball.
As a mother and white pants washing failure, I am pleased as bleach that my child's uniform pants are black this year…on purpose. Now he wouldn't look like he had already played six games before the opening game or so I thought. We have red dirt/dust and white sand. While everyone else looked especially sharp in their red and black uniforms for that first game, my child looked like he had missed the black-pants memo and had chosen to wear gray!
Alas, somewhere in the past twelve months since last season he has learned to talk "trash". "You're going down. Gonna whop that ball! Eat my dust! Flying the bases! Scooooore!" And this is during the game before ours. Hubby was laughing and I was apologizing. Then the opposing team arrived. Everyone had those cool baseball bags, some with wheels since the bags were bigger than the little guys pulling them. They all marched up to the fence and hooked their bags onto the chain link. "Where's your bag" one little fellow asked my five-year-old. "Don't have a bag, I've got a bucket" he proudly replied. Ok, get one baseball bag, got it.
This year my little guy moved up or over or maybe it's a "transition year" because the coach now pitches to their players in a game if he so chooses. If the player doesn't hit the ball after three pitches, then out comes the T and the little league player swings at the ball on the T until he hits it. This can take a while…and often does.
Coach pitching is a new thing for me. I'd never seen pitching and t-balling at the same time and for the same player during the same game. The Agent Moms from last year with cell phones in hand were giving a blow by blow account to their absent husbands, trainers, and/or fans. "Oh, dear, that's two pitches and he hasn't hit the ball yet. One more and no no NOOOOOOO! They're bringing out the T. NO NOT THE T." The T is a sure sign of a beginning player or worse, an underdeveloped player. Nobody in this transition year wants THE T.
My five-year-old who will be my six-year-old next week managed to hit from the pitch once! I was so proud! I was about to alert the media when he had to resort to the T during the next inning.
Over all, the team seems less interested in chasing butterflies this year and more interested in chasing fly balls. A big improvement. This year the team is actually throwing the ball to first and second bases and sometimes the first and second basemen actually come close to catching the ball.
Team members are accepting training much better and often remember some of the training during a game. I watched during practice as line base hits were fielded by the little guys who would then run to the baseline, straddle it with their outstretched arm held straight, ready to tag the base runner as he came by. The catcher on the opposing team last week had learned this lesson well. As my little guy was rounding third and heading for home base, the catcher straddled home plate, outstretched arm straight holding the ball…and my little guy slid right between his legs! SCORE!!
One game down, nine weeks, eighteen practices, and eleven games to go! But who's counting!