One lovely evening earlier in April our 5 year old grandson, Micah had t-ball practice. Rory was working this particular evening and I knew that he was disappointed not to be able to attend Micah’s practice and I knew that Micah himself was disappointed not to have his Pappy there.
Turned out, it was actually a game. Surprise! At this time we’d not yet gotten his schedule. Micah’s mommy (our daughter Alayna) was already in town (we live outside the city limits) ahead of us. She called, “Mom…you DO know that this is a GAME, right?” Of course, this as I was backing out of the garage.
In we ran. THANK GOD I’d washed ‘is uniform! Presto Chango! He was officially ‘suited up’.
The evening did promise to offer some fine entertainment. At one point all the tiny lil’ outfielders on Micah’s lil’ team converged upon the ball at once and, while the batting team got three runs in, our lil’ outfielders fought amongst themselves over the ball. I wouldn’t have wanted to have missed that!
Micah was up to bat first thing, and on his third hit he whopped that ball a good one! The crowd came alive! He was off and took two bases! The next batter brought him in to home, but the first baseman was trying to get to home with the ball to tag Micah out. Micah saw him coming and leapt into the air about 2 1/2 or 3 feet from home, coming down on the plate in a beautifully executed move just about a half second before the plate was tagged! He was SO proud and his coaches couldn’t even let him get in the dugout without getting their hands on him….clappin’ ‘im on his lil’ bitty shoulders and telling him excitedly, “Good job, Micah!”
Then Micah was on the mound when his team (I’m callin’ them th’ ‘G’s cause of the “G” on their hats ;), when the ‘G’s took the field and he caught the first line drive hit to him! Just stuck that lil’ glove out and pocketed that ball RIGHT! His throw in to the catcher was a bit wild and the runner made it in safely but, MY GOSH! He did GREAT! Again his coaches excitedly came and clapped around on ‘im and told him “Good job, Micah!”
He got ahold of two more grounders while on the mound and threw in the first grounder really wild. After that we told him to RUN in to home with it and tag the runner from the mound himself. Of course, when he caught the second grounder he dutifully ran, ran, ran it in but there’d been NO RUNNER ON THIRD!!
No matter, he was celebrated again by his excited coaches and I was beaming like a fool, we all were…Anna, my other daughter, was there too by this time…and I was about to start visiting all the other poor, poor players’ families so that I could casually comment, “He’s just a natural, Micah is…” but the evening started a downhill slide for Micah after that….he wore out AWFULLY fast, and his next time to bat he didn’t hit any coach-pitched balls and had to go to the ‘t’. He couldn’t even hit the ball off the ‘t’ til his 3rd hit and THEN he forgot to run to first!
We caught a couple of more grounders while playing third base and left field but those were sort of lucky ’cause it’s kin’a hard to catch a ball when you’re lying in the grass… Anna got a couple of GOOD pics of this “lyin’ on the ground” action in left field… Yes, it was a pretty steady swing downhill for our champ th’ slugger that night…
In all, I decided to save my visits to the other poor families til’ another night….
There were some perks left in the evening, though…
I had my toy rat terrier, Twinkie, with me and one of the teeniest lil’ fellas became interested in Miss Twinkie while he was on deck. This cutie, a little blonde wearing a pair of miniature eye glasses, had already stolen the hearts of this family as we had observed him bluffing his way courageously along, holding his own through the practices against his older, larger teammates.
Eyeing Twinkie, he came closer to the fence and began asking questions such as, “Is it a girl or a boy? What’s ‘er name? Can I touch ‘er?” I responded by approaching the fence to facilitate the introductions and his little hand snaked through the fence to pet my little dog. In no time, our miniature batter-on-deck was on the fence, little feet and hands moving with rapid accuracy as he climbed up, down, left and right on the fence in front of me like a little spider monkey, talking all the while.
I was amused and entranced as I watched his movements and fielded his little questions. Otherwise, I might have known when the coaches began to call him to the plate. I might even have known when everything ground to halt so that the coach could come and pluck him off the fence, plop him on the ground and point him toward ‘home’.
I know that the coach was amused, too. These men and women who coach these small bundles of excitement and energy have our gratitude and our admiration. It has its joys but I know that they are working and working hard as they teach these small people their skills for the ball field. They tirelessly cheer the small band of citizenry in their charge, encouraging, instructing and even comforting when needed. They inspire with their gentle patience and their commitment.
I can now see why young people and adults alike, speak of the coaches of their childhood with such affection and awe…these are the ones in the trenches with them, helping them to develop their sportsmanship and future skills on the field and off.
Let me say that T-ball for wee-teenies is the greatest sport that we have found to date. It is FULL of celebration, laughter from deep in the gut, heartwarming joy and gut wrenching sorrow and suspense. It is real life Disney. It is the comic relief of the week for me. They really need to take Seniors from retirement communities and nursing homes on field trips to teeny league T-ball games…it would pull them outside of themselves and brighten their lives, I’m certain.
SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL T-BALL LEAGUE!