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T-ball’s healing powers

My day up until 6:30 p.m. Friday evening had not been treating me well. My body had renewed its occasional auto-immune-y ache, which it is keen to do when it is least desired. The buzzing of a solitary mosquito inside my head that began around noon had grown to a symphony of construction equipment banging around in my skull. To top it off, when I got home from work, my dog lovingly presented me with the blueberry plant she had so heroically liberated from its spot firmly entrenched in the yard. 

Then 6:30 p.m. came and we piled into the car and headed out to Gaunt Park and the healing properties of T-ball. Coach Jimmy Chesire has often expounded on the benefits of the Perry League, not just for the kids but the adults as well, and he has been speaking the gospel. As soon as we got on that field, my entire day changed. Unfortunately, Coach Jimmy wasn’t with us this lovely Friday evening, so with Matt McGuire graciously taking over duties at the tee and other parents filling in at all the other spots on the field, I settled down at first base and enjoyed the revelry. I was treated to a continuation of my weekly conversation with Lila Crockett, 4, which is set over many trips to first base and always interrupted when both of us are surprised by the sound of the bat ringing against the ball, setting us into action. This week she was lucky to be trailed by her younger brother Eli, 2, and her father, Justin Crockett, with the smallest family member (I’m ashamed to say I don’t know his name) strapped to his chest. 

Now if this were an actual competitive league, I would be categorized as a terrible first-base coach. I talk too much, I don’t pay enough attention to the happenings on the field and am constantly being surprised by my own crazed child, Maggie, 3, charging straight into my legs. Here, I feel at home. There have been so many times I’ve been so involved in conversation that I don’t remember to send the current resident of first base onwards to second; as soon as that kid has started running, the wonderfully fast Darija Lackovich-Van Gorp, 7, is almost touching first. Of course that gives me the opportunity to talk to her longer while her little sister, Lidija, 4, spins like a gyroscope with the bat in her hands, eventually knocking the ball from its resting spot atop the tee. Getting Lidija to first is always a bit of a challenge since as soon as she hits the ball, she wants to field not only the ball she hit, but the cascade of balls that are rolled in from the first-base side. We always manage to get her there in the end, though. Well, most of the time.

As if this wasn’t enough to wash the day’s troubles from my body, the highlight of my evening came when Mia Campbell, 7, was rolled up to first by her dad, Aaron, and melted my heart by asking if she could have a hug. I, of course, obliged, and felt better than I had all day. 

While we may not have a strict adherence to so-called “rules” — infield hits routinely go for home runs, batters show up at first still holding tight to the bat, multiple small persons on one base at a time and a litany of other offenses that would have a purist turn up their nose — none of that matters. We have fun. Childish, play-in-the-dirt, get-hosed-off-by-mom type fun. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

And here’s a message from Coach Jimmy: that’s our Perry League, Yellow Springs’s T-ball program for girls and boys age 2–9. We’re open to all our community’s children regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, ability or disability, sexual or spiritual or religious orientation. We’ll be out there at Gaunt Park for four more Friday nights — till our final trophy-potluck picnic night Aug. 8 — from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Want to have some fun with us? We’d love to have you. 

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