Wednesday, July 8, 2009

You Can Carry The Field Home On Your Pants

Pop! The soft core baseball flew off the tee. Thirty minutes later it completed its journey to the first baseman, who stood crouched-over the entire time, the edge of her glove resting in the dirt, patiently waiting for the arrival of the ball. Charging simply wasn’t an option. In the stands, parents balanced their checkbooks, took power naps, and completed the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle, stopping in time to see the batter arrive at first base and begin to pirouette.

Over at third base, Major Havoc dove for the ball. His outstretched body momentarily hovered parallel to the diamond before he returned to earth, sliding half a foot through the dirt. He looked up, grinning, checking to see if anyone noticed his valiant attempt to snag the ball that was 170 feet away, rolling in the opposite direction.

“Good try,” his manager cheered.

Three more hits produced roughly the same results, each one ending in a play at first base and a dive at third, regardless of where the ball traveled.

Some parents are really good parents. They attend their children’s games with camera in hand, snapping pictures, cheering for their children, writing up beautiful stories and posting them on their blog. See The Pirate Mom. Me? I’m packing Major Havoc’s baseball pants in a Ziploc bag and saving them for him. He can use the dirt to make a baseball diamond for his children since he tried so hard to carry Apathy baseball field #4 home with him on his pants.

Later in the game, a young man on the opposing team arrived at first base. His team didn’t have a first base coach. He looked to me, standing behind my second baseman and coaching the fielders, and asked, “Was I fast?”

“Like lightening!” I told him.

He stared at me blankly.

“Really fast!” I continued. “Zip! I could barely see you running you were so fast.”

He stared at me stonily. On the next play he advanced to second base. That’s when I heard him call to his dad, who coaching at third.

“Hey, dad! I ran like lightening! I’m really fast!”

His dad stared at him blankly. "That's good?" he called out, uncertainly.

You just never know the effect you’ll have on a kid.

I spent two dozen nights this summer standing at first base, a coach for the Apathy Sharks T-ball team. If I am proud of anything it is the fact that over the course of 8 weeks we taught a group of ten children how to properly field a ground ball, throw it to the general vicinity of first base, and hit a pitched ball, all while having fun. On Monday night, the last game of our season, none of our players needed to hit off of the tee. The Sharks were blessed with a manager who was relaxed, fun, full of energy, positive, and accepted help and suggestions from the two dads who were willing to step onto the field and assist him. My focus was fielding and throwing. The manager and the other coach worked on hitting, and together we managed to keep the kids busy enough to learn something while minimizing the number of dirt mounds, dirt angels, and dust devils made by the highly distractible players. The parents were positive, cheered loudly, and willingly provided treats at the end of each game.

It was a good season.


CrossView said...

So glad you didn't have those shootings and fist fights that I read about. ;o)

It's amazing what a little positive encouragement will do for a child!

jedijson said...

Sounds like you had as much fun as I have had this season. Hopefully, your child didn't constantly adjust himself ("I'm just scratching!") while standing on top of second base and grinching about not being able to be in the outfield so he could pick dandylions to give to Mom like the other kids got to do.

But I didn't go there in my blog today.

Although, after reading yours, I'm wishing I had.

Isn't coaching fun?

Kathleen said...

Wow! What great progress to no longer need the tee by the end!! We've done basketball and soccer, and it's so funny to watch. Since we're off-season now, we're trying to teach the kids how to play v'ball. We always said we wanted 4 kids so we'd have a v'ball team. Here we are. 4 kids. Gotta get to coachin' 'em!

Kellie said...

I am glad you think I am writing beautiful stories about baseball. I hope Dirty Harry sees it like that someday. Right now I think he sees it as heckling least that's what he thinks since he read my blog.

Good for you on the coaching! My dad always coached my softball teams and we're still on speaking terms today... =)

TeacherMommy said...

I love the first paragraph--I can totally envision that!

Just think--if you tweeted, you could have had the whole thing in play by play on Twitter. It would have been something to do while you waited for that ball to get anywhere.