Monday, June 7, 2010

Mr. Baseball in action

Before we moved to Texas, Mr. Baseball played t-ball for two years in small-town southeast Ohio where the rules were simple: everyone bats, everyone scores, and everyone wins. Parents came to watch and laugh and smile at their chubby legged kindergartners as they donned Sofa & Mattress Outlet t-shirts and ran around the infield in a gleeful display of pack behavior that sometimes brought the third baseman, the short stop, and the pitcher out into deep right field chasing a grounder hit down the first-base line. What this Kumbaya method lacked in competitive spirit, it more than made up for in congeniality. But you knew then that even if we’d wanted something a little more intense, we would have been out of luck—Kumbaya ball was the only gig in town.

So when we moved to Lubbock we were excited. We knew Lubbock was a Little League town. We’d noticed the well-groomed ball fields dotting the city. We’d heard about the 2007 all-star team that made it all the way to the semifinal round of the Little League World Series, and when we started researching the local Little League, we discovered that Lubbock and the surrounding communities are actually divided into seven different leagues, that more than 3000 boys and girls ages 4 to 14 fill the rosters of hundreds of teams, that the year is divided into summer and fall ball, that some teams are “traveling” teams that raise thousands of dollars to compete in tournaments as far away as Cooperstown, New York.

Mr. Baseball has been dying to play real baseball since he could hold a glove in his hand...and here, with the replica jerseys, well-trained and into-the-game umpires and overly anxious parent/fans and gravely-voiced coaches, he has finally gotten exactly what he has been waiting for. And the nice thing is...despite how competitive the league is, the kids barely notice the score. Mr. Baseball's team won four games out of thirteen or something like that, but after every game his coach gave out a "game ball" to a kid who did something particularly athletic and no one in our stands or on the coaching staff took the games too seriously, so we all had a genuinely good time. Even when the score was pretty lopsided, Mr. Baseball was upbeat. Once after losing by more than 20 points, he hopped in the car and said, "Dad...did you see the scoreboard? We had seven runs!" And he was very excited.

Unfortunately, I was a much better spectator than I was a photographer, and we didn't get many shots of him playing, but the above video should give you somewhat of an idea.

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