Sports

Thunder, lightning stymies t-ball

There were sprinkles of rain dotting my windshield as I drove up to Gaunt Park last Friday night, June 10, for our second evening of t-ball. Parents and kids gathered ‘round as we unloaded our trunks and we wondered together, “Should we play?”

“If it isn’t pouring raining at 6:30 we play,” I said.

Most nodded in agreement, kids and parents alike.

We set our tees on the two home plates. The sprinkling had stopped.

Twenty-five kids raced out to right field for our warm up exercises, from the 3-and-a-half year-olds Anaya Adoff and Tommy Moore to the 9-year-old Maritza Slattery. We did our trunk twisters, our toe-touches,

“One, two, three, four — wheee!” Our jumping jacks: “We’ll do 6,742 of those.”

“No-ohhh! No-ohhh! No-ohhhh!” the children shrieked, their faces gleeful, delighted to be able to protest so vehemently.

After we warmed up, we ran back to the infield, lined up on the third base line of the small diamond. It was time to divide the older kids from the younger ones:

“If you’re 9 years old, or 8 years old, or 7 years old, you go over to that diamond over there,” I called out, pointing to the larger diamond to my left.

Just then, Aurelia Blake materialized out of the pack of what was now about 35 children. “Jimmy, you got a minute?” Sure, I said, and she took me by the forearm, turning me halfway away from the children massed in front of me — this was to be a private moment — and then she told me there had been thunder. I told her yes, I’d heard it. She suggested it was probably reason enough to call it a night, to not play, that we shouldn’t take any chances. Of course, I wanted to play and I told her what our policy had been: we play even if it rains. We don’t mind a little rain, a little mud. We only cancel if someone’s seen lightning. She then told me the pool’s policy was to close when they heard thunder. She was adamant.

I called the adults in and told them Aurelia’s concern, reiterating our “policy” of enjoying the mud and rain, only canceling a night of play if we saw lightning.

So, what should we do?

Aurelia made her case. I reiterated my “cancel for lightning only” bit. We caucused and most of us decided to stick with “cancel for lightning only” and play. But before I could send any child over to the big diamond, Evan Galarza’s dad stepped up to me, coming through the crowd of children, and said, “I just saw some lightning.” He looked mildly stricken, which was how I felt. Then Susan Hyde said she just saw some lightning, too. And before she finished her sentence a third of the sky lit up. It was as if the giant in “Jack and the Bean Stalk” had just taken a photograph using his flash. So we called it a night. After only having been out here all of 12 minutes. Not 10 minutes later, the storm hit and hit hard. It was ferocious, the rain falling like a cataract, the gusts tropical storm-like in their intensity. In John Bryan Park the next day it looked like a hurricane had hit. Whole trees, halves of trees, scores of very large, very thick branches, limbs of every size, were strewn everywhere. We were lucky we left when we had.

I asked my wife, Robin Suits, a professional Webmaster, to do a little research for the Perry League on thunder and lightning. She discovered, to our surprise, and this is according to NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory (http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/), that: “…lightning is always produced by a thunderstorm. Lightning causes thunder, and you can’t have a thunderstorm without thunder.”

So thank you, Aurelia. And thank you, all you Perry League adults. We made a good decision to cancel when we saw the lightning. And I believe now we should copy the pool’s policy and do what Aurelia suggested, cancel not only when we see lightning, but when we hear thunder as well. N’est-ce pas?

And that’s our Perry League, the village’s beginner baseball program for girls and boys 18 months to 9 years of age — a living, breathing, thinking, feeling, changing, growing, evolving organism comprised of all of us who come out to play, who take part in it. And it’s an open and welcoming organism, too, with plenty of room for any of you reading this who might like to join us. We’ll be out there for eight more Friday nights, on the Gaunt Park baseball diamonds from 6:30–8 p.m. We welcome all the community’s children regardless of race, color or creed. We’re assiduously non-competitive, always striving to be as loving and tender as we can. And your kid can begin playing at any time. There is no requirement to play every week. So come on out when you can, when you like. We’d love to have you.

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