Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Take me out to the Ball Game

So many quotes are attributed to it:  
  • America's pastime
  • There is no crying in baseball
  • The (grand)boys of summer
  • As American as baseball and apple pie
Generally speaking, I might be more interested in the apple pie than baseball - but that just reflects upon my over-developed sweet tooth...

Josiah is playing T-ball  for the first time this summer.  Having shown his prowess in the backyard with a wiffle ball and bat - no "T" needed - he set off to seek his fame and fortune on the diamond.  Well, maybe he would just start his pre-fame-and-fortune story; everyone has to start somewhere.

T-ball rules vary slightly from the baseball it will evolve into.  First, besides first base, there are no set positions - and every team member plays on the field in every inning, regardless of how many show up at the game.  After an opposing diminutive slugger hits off the "T", the ball is thrown to first base.  No outs were recorded in the game I watched, but even if they had, the runner remains on first, advancing to second only when the next batter takes his place on first.  There are no doubles, triples or home runs.  Those will be doled out in future renditions of the game in years to come.

T-ball does have one thing in common with baseball, as I clearly recall from previous Little League days: there is no clock.  Baseball can take hours, and can be seriously elongated by either a pitchers duel or a slug-fest.  Of course, there are no pitchers to duel in T-ball, and in the entire three inning game, only one ball dribbled out of the infield.  BTW, there were no outfielders, everyone bats in every inning, runs are not counted, and outs are too rare to mention.

Apparently, T-ball is not perfectly in line with Josiah's definition of baseball.  "Can we go home now?" he asked after inning number two.  "Not yet, you get to bat, again!"  Being on the home team, there was half an inning of fielding, complete with much yawning from my favorite player, before his last turn at bat.  Game complete, the teams line up for the traditional "good game" slap of the hands with their opponent.  The final game obligation complete, Josiah moved more quickly than he had while running the bases - to claim his prize of Gatorade and a snack.  Little boy motivation has not changed in the intervening generation.

One thing did change, though, being how seriously parents take a game among four-year-olds.  Several of the players donned their own batting gloves as they stepped to the "T".  Over the top, maybe, but harmless and kind of cute.  But when several players stepped to the plate with their own batting helmets, I had to wonder:  do you think I was witnessing the very first season of some future major leaguer?  I think I missed my chance at an autograph or two!

Actually, Josiah signed a picture for me just the other day.  I'll keep that one.  After all, it is already priceless.  No waiting for the majors required.  Swing for the fence, Josiah! 

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