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Oriah Foley was one of many enthusiastic t-ball players last Friday, June 11, at Gaunt Park. T-ball meets there each Friday evening from 6:30–8 p.m. and is open to all 2 to 9 year olds and their parents. (Photo by Aaron Zaremsky)

Oriah Foley was one of many enthusiastic t-ball players last Friday, June 11, at Gaunt Park. T-ball meets there each Friday evening from 6:30–8 p.m. and is open to all 2 to 9 year olds and their parents. (Photo by Aaron Zaremsky)

Another sweet, goofy t-ball night

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The Perry League’s 2010 opening night was almost rained out on Friday, June 4. It rained like crazy for about an hour before we took the field, coming down so thick and so heavy it caused an 11-car accident out on 675.

So what did we do?

The new Perry League program coordinator, Jason Newsome — an extraordinary young man, a gifted athlete, loving father and coach, funny, witty, with a patient, kind and tender attitude toward the children — he was out there at 6:30 with all the equipment and new 2010 tie-dyed shirts to see what was what. The rain had stopped, but there was lightning.

“We’ll hold off,” Jason said, following a rule he’d learned coaching little league, “’til there’s no lightning for 15 minutes.” That usually means it’s safe, the storm’s over and it’s safe to play. And by 7 p.m. we looked good to go.

(Just a note here about my new role in the Perry League. Though I will not be coordinating it, Jason, his wife Rhonda, who is helping him run things, and the other adults out there that first Friday night all thought it would be okay if I came out to watch, to be the roving, roaming Perry League reporter. I mean, how could I stay away from all this joy? All this love? All this hilarity? All these remarkable t-ball children? Well, I couldn’t, I can’t, and I am grateful to be allowed to continue being a part of it all, in this new capacity. Okay? Okay.)

I saw 7-year-old Joseph, one of the most loving boys I’ve had the privilege of meeting out here on the t-ball diamond. I couldn’t remember his last name, so I pulled a Huckleberry Finn move on him. I asked him how to spell his last name.

Joseph, he’s 7, he spelled his name for me. M-i-n-d-e. B-e-r-m-a-n. “And that’s hyphenated,” he said, reminding me that he’s as bright as he is loving.

Meanwhile, back on the bench, his sister Eliza, who is 5, was trying to decide if she should play in her red leather cowboy boots or go barefoot. Her mom, Jennifer Berman, thought going barefoot might be best, but Eliza couldn’t decide. These are very beautiful boots.

“Can I see one?” I asked, and she pulled one off. I looked inside and saw they were Smoky Mountain boots. Made in China. And red like a roan horse is red, with two silver stars carved, embedded in the leather near the top of each boot, up there where you’d grab them to pull them on. Whatcha gonna do?

Soon, Eliza of the red cowboy boots came prancing into second base. She was barefoot. “You decided, huh?” I said. She nodded, then explained her reasoning.

“The more you’re stickier,” she said, “the more you’re faster.”

“Yes,” I said, “and you’re already pretty fast.”

Russell Besson had a new glove. He’s just had his fifth birthday. “This is his fourth season,” Layla, his mom, says. “He started at 2,” she says, counting off the years on her fingers: two, three, four, five.

“I got a Lego set for my birthday,” he told me, adding, “I lost the Lego guy.” He sounded more perplexed than sad.

“You did?” I said, trying to sound sympathetic. I have no idea what a Lego guy is.

Russell nodded, very serious now. He was being quite thoughtful about this. “He got stuck somewhere,” he said.

Then he turned and went back to catch some balls, smacking his fist in the pocket of his stunningly beautiful, brand-spanking-new, 100 percent leather, burgundy and black baseball mitt, leaving me to ponder this poor “Lego guy” — some poor plastic chap up to his neck in quicksand? Or lost in outer space, in some other dimension, a time warp, perhaps?

And that’s our Perry League, Yellow Springs’ t-ball program, welcoming all our community’s children ages 2–9 regardless of race, color or creed. We’re at Gaunt Park every Friday night, 6:30–8 p.m., trying to be as sweet and patient and loving as we can. Playing a little ball, on the grass and in the mud (if it’s available), trying to have ourselves a good time. Children can begin to play at anytime and there’s no requirement to play every week — come when you like, come when you can. We’ll be out there for eight more Friday nights, Henry (Smith-Heston), ’til our final potluck-trophy night on August 5. (Henry asked me last Friday night, on our first night of the season, “Where’s my trophy, Jimmy?”

So, why don’t you come on out and join us? We’d love to have ya.


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