Sports

The tiny warriors of t-ball

It was another scorcher. Ninty-three degrees at 6:30 p.m. (though the humidity was only 49 percent, which helped some). Five kids got us started — we had 25 on the diamond before the rains sent us home early, and for the third time this season.

Dane Beal, 5, is for me one of the keenest pleasures of this t-ball business. Dane was the first kid at the park and he raced up to me with great eagerness, calling me by name. But I could not remember his name, so I dared do what I have learned to do, ask the child his name, even at the risk of that child’s massive disapprobation: I’ll ask a kid to tell me his or her name, after they’ve already told me six or seven times, and they’ll prop their fists on their hips, their arms akimbo, and with a tone of utter disbelief coupled with a determination to not tell me a seventh time, they’ll exclaim, “You know my name!”

But I forget. I’m sorry, I do. As I had with Dane. So I asked.

“What’s your name?” I said it softly, a bit timidly. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, nor risk his disdain.

“I’m BoomBoxBoy,” he said as if it were the most normal thing in the world.

And my heart filled with joy.

“BoomBoxBoy” is what I called this wild rapscallion in last week’s column, trying to get a handle on his incredible energy. And here he was telling me he’d read my column (or, of course, had it read to him). I was delighted, thrilled, touched and relieved. as some of my characterizations, I fear, might not sit so well with a child or their parents.

I said something to his mom, Ara Beal, telling her how much it meant to me that he knew the phrase, that he liked it.

“Oh, yeah,” she said nodding knowingly. “It’s all over town. Everyone’s calling him that. He’s BoomBoxBoy!”

Well, thank you, Ara. Thank you, Dane — I mean, thank you, BoomBoxBoy.

Kian Rainey has been one of those marvels who keep me coming back to this program year after year. A beautiful boy, as lovely as an angel’s dream, he loves this game, managing to get here, thank you, Amy Boblitt, every single Friday night. When he came to the plate his third time at bat he wanted the tee higher. It’s a hollow, black rubber tube with a smaller, also hollow, black rubber tube pushed down into it. This inner hollow tube can be pulled up or pushed down so a child has the option of hitting the ball at a height ranging anywhere from 24 to 36 inches.

Kian, who is about 34 inches tall, steps up to the tee. He says, “Wannit eye-er.” What? I say.

“Wann-it EYE-er,” he says, emphasizing the first syllable of that second pair of sounds. “Oh!” I say, getting it, “you want it higher?”

“Yes,” he says, directing that love light of his on me now, he’s grateful I have understood. “Yes. Wann-it eye-er.”

I raise it.

“Eye-er,” he says.

I raise it again: “Okay?”

He says nothing. “Higher?” I say, thinking that is what his silence means. I pull the tee to its full 36-inch height.

His eyes sparkle and flash, his smile widens and deepens simultaneously. Clearly he is pleased. “Yes!” he says.

He’s holding a big wooden bat that is longer than he is tall. It has to be too heavy for him — but no. He swings it, wielding it like a caveman his club, bringing it back behind him, lifting it, and suddenly he looks like a real baseball player, not the two-year-old child that he is. He lifts his upper body, he’s hoisting that huge huge heavy heavy bat, takes a deep breath, and then swings a mighty swing, blasting the tee about two inches from the top, sending it and the ball flying. An appreciative roar lifts from the crowd. But it’s not really a hit. “You get a thousand strikes in t-ball,” I say as I set the tee aright and the ball atop it. And we do this five more times as he blasts that tee over again and again, sending it sprawling in the dust, the ball spilling, dribbling off it, not really going anywhere. Then on his seventh try he actually hits that darn ball, which, remember, has been standing two, maybe three inches above his head. A miracle if ever there was one. There’s another roar from the crowd and our young hero is off and running, heading for first base.

And that’s our Perry League. A program full of small, brilliant, loving, smiling, determined, committed, happy happy happy baseball-diamond-warriors — and BoomBoxBoys — swatting and running the bases like still-spotted summer fawn delirious with the joys of their new bodies. And we have only one Friday left. This coming Friday, August 5, is our final night, our trophy night, the night of our potluck picnic wiener roast. We’ll have a shortened evening of play, have our wiener roast (veggie and meat) potluck picnic dinner, and then end the evening and the 2011 season with the awarding of a lovely gleaming golden Perry League trophy to each and every child who shows up — even if, and we mean this sincerely, even if it is that child’s first night with us.

We still need some items for the potluck — you could bring a covered dish or salad, some veggies and or some fruit, a dessert, drinks (with cups and ice and cooler). So, if you can come, if you want to come, please do. And it you want to bring something, you can call Becky Reed at 767-1378, our potluck picnic co-coordinator to let her know what you might bring, what is still needed. We expect it will be another wonderful night of t-ball, another great end to another great season, but it won’t be unless you can come join us — to play, to watch, to eat, to take home a trophy. So, what do you say? Wanna help us create a glorious end to a glorious season? We’d love it if you did, if you do. Honest and truly, cross my fingers and hope to die.

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