Youth

T-ball tooth fairies, divas, sluggers

Siobhan McCane Stewart, 4, was out by second base, scooping up ground balls in her new and beautiful, shiny black and brilliant snow white, all-leather Rawlings fielder’s mitt. She had a pair of black tights on under her new tie-dyed Perry League shirt, happy to be covering the left side of the infield with her dad, Craig McCane, Yellow Springs High School’s new varsity football coach.

(Congratulations and best of luck, Coach.) Oriah Thomas Foley, 3, came zooming at us with his mom Jennifer Foley racing right behind, the two of them movie star beautiful, both of them as peppy as a pair of Mexican jumping beans, and as happy as the day is long. Jennifer manages the Corner Cone where, on Friday nights, kids with Perry League t-shirts on get a free ice cream cone.

Hannah Littell, 6 (she spelled Littell for me perfectly, plainly, clearly, taking her time so I was sure to get it, thank you), she is standing near the pitcher’s mound with another beauty, the amazing Devon Deal, 5. Devon’s one of those naturally gifted athletes we see gracing the t-ball diamonds so regularly and she is such a pleasure to watch — she’s like a sunset over the Appalachicola Bay, surprising, delightful and breathtaking in her moves, her agility, her quickness.

“Here’s that tough guy!” Hannah squeals as Nathan Schindler, 6, comes to bat. “Back up every body,” head coach and new Perry League coordinator Jason Newsome calls out to all of us in the infield. “This boy can hit.”

It’s Nathan’s fifth summer as a Perr y T-ball tooth fairies, divas, sluggers Leaguer. He hits a solid grounder on his first swing, that ball zooming past me and my two divas. “He can hit!” Hannah yells as she and Devon whirl around to give chase to Nathan’s ground ball. “I knew he could!”

Hayley Partee is 5. She’s Pat and Mindy’s kid — Pat Sr., my former long-time coachpartner, and Jeannine Partee’s grandkid. “On my birthday,” Hayley says, “I’ll be whole hand and this old.” She holds up her left hand with all five fingers splayed and her right hand with just her index finger lifted.

“You’ll be 6?” I ask and she nods, yep.

Her mom Mindy tells me she lost her first tooth on Monday, June 7. It was very loose, Mindy says, and Hayley wanted to know when it was coming out. Soon, her mom said, and then Hayley wiggled it, to see how loose it was, and then pulled it out to look at it. She has her loose tooth now out in front of her, the tooth a foot from her mouth, and suddenly she realized what she’d done. “I pulled it out!” she exclaimed, her eyes as big as silver dollars.

The tooth fairy came and left six one dollar bills.

$6!

It was a dime back in the day, when I was 5.

She got a handwritten note from the tooth fairy giving her permission to keep this tooth since it was her first. So, she got six bucks and got to keep her tooth as well!

Peyton Gray, she’s 8, is dressed in a lovely ankle-length empress style dress, looking like a lady going to a cocktail party in the Hamptons. She’s helping her little sister Reagan who, her mother says, “will be 2 in three weeks. We thought we could sneak her in.” (We claim Perry League’s for girls and boys 2–9 years of age, but we’ve had a number of children ranging in ages from 15 to 23 months. And it’s quite delightful.)

Toward the end of the night, I see 6-yearold Jonah Kintner, with his mom, Judy, at the same moment he sees me. I am beside home plate, near the backstop and he’s at first base. He’s my Charles Atlas, my Tarzan of the Apes friend. He’s shirtless, looking buff and beautiful, like Johnny Weissmuller again (like he did last summer). I drop to my knees and he rushes across the grass to me, and, God bless him, he rushes right into my arms. We give each other a hug, a big, big hug.

“I missed you,” he says as we cling to each other, his words and affection melting my heart.

I tell you, when a beautiful, healthy, wellloved, well-cared for young Tarzan like Jonah says he misses you and gives you a big spontaneous, full-body hug that keeps on keeping on — we held onto each other for a good 30 seconds, maybe more — well, it doesn’t get any better than that.

And that’s our Perr y League, Yellow Springs’ t-ball program for all the community’s children ages 2–9. We’re at Gaunt Park ever y Friday night, 6:30–8 p.m. Children can begin to play at any time and there’s no requirement to play every week. Come when you like, come when you can. We’ll be out there for the next seven Friday nights, till our final potluck trophy-to-everykid- who-shows-up night, August 6. So why don’t you come on out? All you need is a little willingness. Won’t you try a little willingness? We’d sure like it if you did, we surely would.

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