Sports

Another Perry League lovefest

Matt McGuire saw a boy take a spill running to first base. Matt is the loving four-year-old Maddy’s dad.

“He cried hard,” Matt said, “and because the ground was so hard, he cried for a long time. Any way we can work on these diamonds? The village have a tractor?”

He said he’d operated a lot of heavy equipment, that if we had the tools, he’d be willing to work on these rock-hard diamonds. I told him about the old riding mower they used to keep in a shed near the diamonds, that I’d look into it. And thanks to the creativity of Jason Hamby, the Village’s superintendent of streets, waste water collection and parks and recreation, we got access to the Village’s riding law mower. And, now get this — this is the kind of phenomenal and fantastic thing that happens at t-ball all the time — after spending several hours getting that old relic of a mower to work, Matt spent a couple more hours grating that cement-like ball diamond. Which meant Friday night we had some of the softest, loveliest, it-will-pour-right-through-your-fingers ball diamond dirt we’ve had in a good 10 years. No kid needed to suffer that terrible shock of slamming down upon what was essentially a sheet of concrete. Thank you, Matt. Thank you, Jason Hamby. And thank you, Tim Sherwood, too, our little league coordinator, who has worked closely with Jason and the Village this spring and summer, getting that old mower up there to Gaunt Park in the first place.

David Mader came out Friday night. He only had a few minutes. He had to be at a meeting and had to run, but he’d stopped by to thank me and tell me how precious and wonderful it was to read the lovely (honest and accurate) things I had said about his gifted grandson Mateen Sajabi in two recent t-ball columns. David movingly said he had been deeply affected. And that he was very grateful, that he loved hearing such wonderful things said about Mateen. And I was deeply touched, and profoundly grateful myself, dancing as I was in a shower of grace. Thank you, David. Thank you, Mateen. And thank you, father Cyprian and mother Nacim.

And speaking of t-ball adults, Anaya Adoff’s clan was quite magnificently vociferous again last week. Anaya, the young beauty and t-ball star, she’s 5-and-a-half, came to the plate several times, delighted for the chance to use her natural gifts, her stance that of an older, much more sophisticated kid, her focus and concentration impressive.

“Stand back!” her mom, Terri, sang out from the bleachers 25 feet back. “Remember what your dad (Jaime) said!”

Anaya was crowding the plate like almost every kid does, scooching up flush to the tee, not yet understanding the reach of a 24-inch tee-ball bat. Without turning her head, she took in her mother’s counsel, stepped back, her eye never leaving that ball perched on the tee in front of her. She lifted her bat, cocking it, and then brought it down and around in one swift and elegant swing, that bat cutting right across the top of the tee, as she knocked that ball straight into the infield. It was a good, strong hit. But what really astounded, what truly delighted, was the instantaneous and deafening roar from the sidelines, where Jaime is standing, back a bit from Terri in the bleachers, with a gang of wildly, wonderfully enthusiastic Anaya Adoff fans. There were at least eight of them, maybe as many as a 12, a band of good-looking men and women, all of them bursting simultaneously, instantaneously, into a Great American Ballpark roar of approval and joy. Huzzah!

Scott Tucker was at it again, too. He’s the father of the thoughtful, quite articulate and peripatetic darling, Caroline, 5-and-a-half. Scott was throwing out balls this week — he had been our first base coach for the first three weeks. He had Matt McGuire helping him and the two of them threw out 10, 11, 12 balls after each batter hit his or her ball off the tee; they were trying to ensure each child got a chance to catch, to hold, to seize, to throw, and more often than not, to simply hang onto and “own” one of these magical spheroids, our beautiful, bright white, red-laced baseballs. It can be dangerous work, too, what Scott and Matt were up to. You throw a dozen balls out and eight or nine of them will come flying back at you, fast and furious, and as often as not, all at once. Bang! Boom! Bang! Look out!

Amy Boblitt was stellar, too, as a champion t-ball mom and volunteer coach this week. She told me her son Kian, 4, when hearing the line from last week’s article that the kids jumped around like toads in a thunderstorm, said, “I’m not a toad!” Sorry, Kian. Amy did double time this week, serving as both our on-deck and our bench coach, two vitally important roles of counting kids, organizing them on the bench, getting and passing along their names to me, and most importantly, ensuring every one of them gets a turn at bat. And she was still out there, smiling and on her feet, sending kids to bat, at 8 p.m., our closing time, when I, always loathe to quit, asked her, “You open to a couple more batters? Eh?” And champ that she is, Amy, she gave me a beautiful smile and shrugged, saying, “Fine by me. I’m not going anywhere.”

And that’s this holy thing, this love-fest we call the Perry League, Yellow Springs’ non-competitive, beginner’s baseball program, the village’s t-ball program, for all our community’s children regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, ethnicity, ability or disability, sexual orientation or spiritual preference. We welcome all the community’s children, girls and boys, ages 2–9. And we’ll be out there at Gaunt Park every Friday night, from 6:30–8 p.m., for the next six Friday nights — till our final wiener-roast potluck-picnic trophy night, August 9. Children can begin play at any time and there is no requirement to come every week. So, come when you can, come when you will. We’d love to have you, we really and truly would.

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