PLAY BALL! — OR MAYBE NOT

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The College World Series starts this week here in Omaha, Nebraska.  I’m re-posting a few baseball stories to remind people what baseball is all about — and how our children enjoy the sport!

So – remind me what I’m doing out here.

We wanted all of our kids to play some kind of sport – just so they could have fun and learn about the game – but mostly to get them out of my hair for a couple of hours every week and away from the video games and TV!  I actually enjoyed having someone else yelling at them and ordering them around – the sad part was that they paid attention to their coaches but still ignored me when I acted the same way.  We signed our kids up to play baseball/softball at the local Y for a couple of reasons – they were cheap and they let all of the kids play regardless of their skill levels or athletic abilities.  This was very important to us because when you scrape the bottom of the gene pool – you aren’t going to get star athletes.  To be fair to my husband – he did participate in sports in school – basketball, football and wrestling.  However, he will be the first one to tell you that he spent all of his time learning which part of the bench was the most comfortable – and his father always wanted to know why only the back of his wrestling uniform was dirty.  Me? Well, let’s just say that I make couch potatoes look hyperactive.

No matter what our children’s athletic abilities – we do have some memorable moments from each of their illustrious careers –

Our oldest, Jenny didn’t start playing softball until she was in middle school.  She really wasn’t very interested in the sport, but she didn’t want to get left out of something in which all of her siblings were participating – especially when there was usually pizza and dessert after practice and games!  Jenny had attended a couple of practices and being tall for her age, but not having played the game before, Jenny was assigned to play right field – which of course was right next to the stands where EVERYONE would be watching.  Jenny had taken an extraordinarily long time getting ready for the first game – which I didn’t understand – how long does it take to tie your hair into a ponytail, put on the team shirt (which the Y supplied), a pair of shorts (any pair would do) and tennis shoes!  Finally, Jenny comes out to the car – her hair is curled, she has the perfect lip gloss, she is wearing shorts which match her shirt (where she found them, I’m not sure) and to top off the ensemble, she is wearing a pair of cute hiking boots!  I stopped Jenny as she was about to get into the car and explained that she had to go back in the house and get her tennis shoes, to which Jenny replied “But Mom, these boots go perfect with this outfit!  Those tennis shoes are soooo ugly!”  Needless to say, Jenny’s career only lasted one season.

Bob, our oldest son loved playing baseball.  He loved being with the guys, he loved all of the friends he had made, he loved being able to make fun of the other team – what he didn’t love was having to run around those darn bases!!  Luckily, he didn’t have to do this very often since he didn’t hit the ball often – and the pitchers for the other teams were equally as inept – so sometimes, he had to WALK to first base.  One year, it was time to teach the boys how to steal bases and slide into the base correctly.  Bob was excited to learn this, while at the same time dreading the whole running part.  Finally, Bob’s big moment came – he had been walked to first base and his coach was giving him the signal to STEAL second!  Here was his chance to show what he could do – which didn’t work out exactly as expected.  Bob ran (yes, I said ran) towards second base and went down into his slide position perfectly!  Only one problem, Bob was only about half-way to second base when he came to a dead-stop – he had started his slide a little too early – because the sooner you slide, the less you have to RUN!  Bob, however, was not deterred.  He was going to make it to second base no matter what – so he simply laid down on his side and ROLLED to second base.  Fortunately for Bob, the other team over-threw second base trying to get him (who knew he would STOP so soon?!?) and Bob was SAFE!  Yes – he had rolled himself to safety!  Let’s see someone in the major leagues do that one!

Tim, our second son also loved baseball – but for different reasons.  Tim just loved being outdoors.  If he could have found a pack of wolves to adopt him, we would have lost him to the wilderness!  In addition, Tim’s coaches loved Tim – not because of his current athletic abilities – but because of his possibilities – Tim is a southpaw, a lefty – and all coaches yearn to have a pitcher on their team with this unique attribute.  Unfortunately, Tim couldn’t pitch at all – which would have been okay, if he could hit the ball – because southpaw batters are just as valuable.  Alas, this was not meant to be – because Tim was afraid of the baseball!  Being a lefty and dealing with right-handed, inexperienced pitchers had taught Tim that the odds of him getting hit by the baseball were extremely good.  In fact, it was rare if Tim didn’t get hit at least a couple of times during the game.  This is also advantageous for the team, because Tim didn’t even have to swing his bat to get to base in most cases – if he didn’t get hit, he usually would just watch the baseballs swish by home plate just outside the batting zone.  At one point, his coaches took him to a batting cage and told him to stand still why the balls came at him – hoping he would finally learn to bat them away – instead, it only taught Tim that it didn’t hurt that bad to get hit!  One good thing came out of it – Tim was an excellent bunter – he had no fear of standing in front of the plate to bunt that ball!  Being in the outfield was not Tim’s strong point either – he tended to get caught up in the wild life in right field – so when it was time to catch a ball, Tim was usually watching some squirrel or just the grass growing – and never quite understood why everyone was yelling at him.

Our youngest daughter, Becky started playing baseball very young.  In fact, at that age, the Y has a co-ed team and everyone who is on the team plays the outfield and everyone gets a chance at bat.  This means that if there are 15 kids on the team – they are all in the field when they aren’t at bat.  It makes for a very interesting game – because at that age, they are much more interested in each other than the game.  After the first few practices, the coaches approached me and told me that Becky would be a good player, except that she is always getting hit on the head by the balls in the outfield.  This is because she is so intent on visiting with her new friends that she doesn’t hear the coaches yelling “WATCH OUT!”   They had started making her wear her batting helmet when she played outfield – just in case!  Apparently being whacked on top of the head a few times made Becky a better ball player – as she was the only one of the bunch who went on to play for a city league in high school – where she managed to keep her eye on the ball at all times and improved her batting average and helped her play her position at first base.

The moral of the story?  Not everyone is cut out to play sports – especially if you have nerds for parents (you breed nerds, you get nerds!).  However, you don’t have to be the star player to entertain the crowd – no one remembers the score of the game – but everyone who witnessed one of my children’s games remembers the girl who missed the ball because she was fixing her hair, the boy who rolled safely to second base, the kid who seemed to enjoy putting his body on the line for a bunt and the little girl who had to wear her batting helmet in the outfield to avoid concussions!

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4 responses »

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