Sports

The continuing delight of t-ball

The colorful mosaic that is the Perry League continues to startle, astound and delight. Tommy Moore, 4, takes a mighty swing, sends the ball zinging into the pack of kids in the infield, each child hungry for a ball — like young Edwin Harrah, 2, who is out there again, as happy, joyous and free as he was on opening night. He and his dad James were two of the brave ones (crazy ones?), coming out on that chilly, cloudy, rainy, June 1 night. Like Jack Horvath, 6, another regular, a terrifically talented and happily animated young man; or Caroline Tucker, 4, the bubbly active volcano of a child, zooming zooming zooming; and Jia Sundell-Turner, 4, the fast, leaping ecstatically energetic creature, reminding me of a frolicking fawn I spotted once in John Bryan. And you gotta see this young dude in his shades. You wanna see cool? This is cool.

Six-year-old Eli Matteson was out there, too, in the thick of things, the boy as quick as a flash of lightning, racing after every ball coming his way — snatching most of them up, too. And William Hale, 7, too, another Dynamo Boy, crouching, ready, alert, powerful; he looked so strong it made me think of a tightly coiled spring.

In the middle of this pack, almost all night long, was 6-year-old Margo Funderberg playing like a much older kid, a kid who knew what she was doing, easily holding her own in the midst of all these rambunctious bouncing barking bounding boys.

Marco Kefert, 4-and-a-half, joined us again. He’s a focused, very intent young fellow, excellent as a fielder, hitter, and runner — who I stupidly kept calling the big brother of his older sister Marin Kefert, who is five-and-a-half, she whose joy and keen attentiveness was matched by her extraordinary, glorious, healthy-rose-bush-like head of wonderfully black, black hair.

Some of the older, more sophisticated kids worked along the first base line: AJ Newsome, 9, Luka Sage-Frabotta, 7, and Callie Hester, 9, being my ball-throwing-out-there, let’s-try-to-get-everyone-a-ball assistant coaches. Like Dusty Hall, Emma’s dad, did last week. Nine balls a-rolling — three balls per kid — nine balls bouncing through a dozen or more kids’ feet, nine balls chased, scrambled-after, dived for and occasionally fought-over. “He took my ball! He took my ball!”

“Here,” I say, offering the distressed child a ball, “you wanna hang onto it for awhile?”

“Yes, yes, yes!” the child says, her head, his head, nodding in affirmation. Our t-ballers just love to just hang onto the balls.

“Sometimes they like to own one,” I say, and Mateen and Margo and Caroline all nod knowingly, eagerly, each clutching a ball with both hands, holding it close to their hearts.

“Yes, I want to own it!” Mateen exclaims, beaming up at his mom.

We had a special guests this week, a Perry League alumnus joining us on the field: Jacob GunderKline, three-time All-American race walker, a soon-to-be senior at Goshen College in north-central Indiana. He was our first-base coach, engaging every child in a bit of conversation, getting almost every kid to talk, which is no mean trick: you ask a toddler a question, forgetting (or having never thought about) how a toddler’s brain works, and most of them will simply stare right past you like you’re nothing but an old fence post and not half as interesting. But not with Jake. He had kids chatting away; he, 21 now, he’ll be 22 in August, who I first met on this same diamond 17 yeas ago when he and his identical twin brother Brock came out as 4-your-year-olds with their mother Molly GunderKline and their even then thoughtful older sister, Eve.

And that’s the Perry League, Yellow Springs’ all-volunteer t-ball program for all our community’s children regardless of race, color, creed, sexual preference, ability or disability. We will be out there at Gaunt Park every Friday night for the next six weeks (till our final night wiener-roast potluck-picnic trophy night Aug. 3) from 6:30–8 p.m. There is no requirement to play every week and you’re welcome to join us at any time — so, if you haven’t been there yet, but you want to join us, then do. We’d love to have you. We really and truly would.

 

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