Sports

T-ball’s no joke, but fun abounds

We’re doing knock-knock jokes.

“Knock, knock,” Dorothy Paddison, 8, says. “Who’s there?” we ask.

“Banana.”

“Banana who?”

She doesn’t answer, just starts anew:

“Knock, knock.”

“Who’s there?”

“Banana.”

“Banana who?”

She won’t tell us.

“Knock, knock.”

“Who’s there?”

“Orange.”

“Orange who?”

“Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?”

I don’t know who started this. We were doing our exercises. We were about to get on our hands and knees and crawl around two other people when someone said, “Knock, knock.”

Who’s there? Dwayne. Dwayne who? Dwayne the bathtub, it’s overflowing.

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Cow goes. Cow goes who? No, cow goes “moo!”

Josh Paddison, Dorothy’s dad, Roy Gano’s dad, steps up.

“Knock, knock,” he says.

“Who’s there?” we ask.

“Lettuce.”

“Lettuce who?”

“Lettuce play some T-ball,” he says.

“It’s a pun,” Geneva Gano says.

She’s Dorothy and Roy’s mom. She explains what a pun is, but I forget and have to look it up: a pun, my Oxford dictionary says, is a “joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words that sound alike but have different meanings.” Like lettuce and let us. Thank you, Geneva.

Kian and Alannah Calfee, 5, take the field. “I got five,” Kian says after fielding five balls and throwing them back to Scott Fleming, 4-year-old Bryce’s dad. Alannah brings me four balls she’s scooped up, clutching them precariously to her chest.

“Four!” she says as I tried to pry them loose. “Four! Four!”

It is a real struggle getting them away from her. Neither of us wants to drop them to the ground. I don’t know why this is so vitally important, but it is, and we both know it. I pry one loose, then two — and she is so happy, so unbelievably delighted, so completely blissful in her fielding prowess. I get a third one loose and she is smiling beatifically, grinning with her whole face, her ineffable joy mesmerizing. I am so happy, so privileged, so blessed to be so close to such radiant, seemingly perfect bliss.

Elijah Yelton comes to the plate.

“I’m here to do my duty,” he says and I am struck again by the creativity, the diversity, the individual variety of what this T-ball experience is to our magnificent T-ball players. Kian Rainey zooms in, announcing ecstatically as he flies by, “Five! Five! Five!”

“I’m six,” Elijah says to this, and then tells me Todd, his mom’s friend, is here. Sitting next to her. “I like him,” he says, a perfectly peaceful, serene, and loving statement of fact. And here I am again, standing in a pool of Goodness.

Dorothy Paddison adjusts the height of the tee. She shows me her swing. She is quite athletic and graceful. “Put me in the paper,” she says. Tommy Moore, 6, our next batter, is behind her. “Put me in the paper,” he says. “Four times,” he adds. Roy Gano, 5-and-a-half, hears us and says, “Put me in the paper.” Alannah spies this impromptu conference at home plate, comes forward to get in on the action. “Put me in the paper,” she says, immediately throwing her head back, laughing uproariously. “I want to be famous,” Dorothy says. “I want to be famous,” Tommy says. Me, too, I say.

Erasmus — Razz-muh-Tazz to some of his friends — Thornton, 5, with his knockout good looks and glorious Woodstock shoulder-length hair, comes to the plate.

“I play baseball,” he says, explaining his excellent form, his near perfect batting stance, and his rocket-grounders.

Veda Rainey, with her lovely dishwater blonde hair pulled back in a knotted, braided, French-style ponytail, stands at the tee looking as serious as a tornado gathering strength on the horizon. She’s 3 and has the stance and holds her bat like a much older, much more skilled and practiced child. She looks at her mom, the marvelous T-ball power and authority, Amy Boblitt; she looks at the ball, gripping her bat tightly, firmly, and then whacks that ball right out to the pitcher’s mound — a good, strong, clean hit.

And that’s our Perry League, Yellow Springs’s T-ball program for girls and boys ages 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 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. for three more Friday nights — till our final potluck picnic trophy night Aug. 8. Want to add some pure, unadulterated joy to your day? Want to relax, smile, and have a wonderful time? Then come on out. We would love to have you. We most surely would.

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