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Baseball! baseball! at Perry League

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Colin Lindemann is the first child on the diamond.

“How old are you, Colin?” I ask. He’s left his glove with his mom until after we do our stretches.

“I used to be 4,” he says.

His mom, Erica, one of our perfect parent-volunteer coaches, steps up, looking for a way to help. She confirms Colin’s 5 and then starts her evening throwing balls out to kids in the field. We do this after the kid at bat has hit one ball into the infield, throwing out half dozen or more balls, trying to give every kid a chance to scoop one up.

Stephanie McClurg sits at the end of the bench, a line of 14 children next her. She manages the flow of kids going up to bat, getting each child’s name before sending them to Jason, her husband, who is working the on-deck circle.

“One of the best drummers in the area,” Johnny D says about Jason. And Johnny, a singer and rhythm guitarist, should know, having played with Jason and having recently formed his own reggae band. Johnny’s at first base welcoming and rooting for every kid racing into first, showering them with love and approbation before sending them roaring on their way down to second.

Stephanie Zinger is on the diamond with her two beauties, 3-year-old Adeline (“Sweet Addie,” she says she calls her) and 5-year-old Josephine. Sweet Addie is wearing a soft cotton, pastel pink t-shirt that has three rows of block letters: ADO is the first row of letters, RAB is the second, and LE is the third.

“What’s your shirt say?” I ask mindlessly — you’d think I would have learned by now how pea-brained it is for me to ask a 3-year-old a direct question. It’s like expecting to be able to ride a bicycle in a swimming pool. Three-year-olds almost never answer a direct, adult-data-oriented, adult-data-gathering type of question. Especially if you are an adult they barely know. I barely know Sweet Addie. Corrine Totty, 5, came with Adeline and Josephine and has on the exact same pastel pink, soft cotton t-shirt as Addie has on.

When Sweet Addie gives me that look that says, “Who are you and why are you saying things to me?” I turn to her mom. “Do you know what the letters on her shirt mean?”

“No,” Stephanie says, “I never paid it much attention.

“Adorable,” Becky Reed says. “It says she’s adorable.”

Becky’s here with her sons Billy, 16, and Danny, 8, and her latest t-baller, her grandson Tommy, 2. She’s selling Perry League t-shirts for us.

I see it when she says it: ADO. RAB. LE. Adorable.

Mina Brown, 3, is sitting on second base. I ask her a couple of questions, being beef-witted again, expecting another toddler to answer my adult-data-oriented questions. When I realize she isn’t going to say a word to me, not now, not ever, I chat with her wonderful father, the handsome and personable Eric Brown. Mina watches us chat and when we wave she leans forward, bending double, and ends up hugging the base, her tiny 3-year-old frame fitting over that canvas base perfectly. It could be a favorite stuffed animal, how lovingly she embraces that bag.

Dimitri Wall, he’s 2, comes jogging down the first base line, his bat still in hand.

“Drop the bat! Drop the bat!” Niki Sage, his grandmother enjoins. Dimitri ignores her, of course — once these little ones get their hands on a bat, especially the miniature wooden Louisville sluggers we have, they are loath to ever let them go. Dimitri is banging his bat on the ground as he comes. He’s killing something, some wild creature, that’s for sure, ignoring his grandmother’s pleas, hanging onto the bat all the way to first base where Johnny D manages, we don’t know how, to get him to give it up before the Where the Wild Things Are child races onto second.

“Last week,” Niki says, “he didn’t want to put his shirt on, he didn’t want to hit, he didn’t want to do anything -— and then suddenly, the skies opened up, suddenly it blossomed, and he started to play. And then that’s all he talked about all week,” she says, her face brilliant with love and light. “Baseball! Baseball! Baseball!” he said every day. “Baseball! Baseball! Baseball!”

And that’s the way we like it at the Perry League, Yellow Springs’ t-ball program for all the 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. Children can begin to play at any time and there’s no requirement to play every week. Come when you like, come when you can. We’ll be out there for the next six Friday nights, till our final potluck, trophy-to-every-kid-who-shows-up night, August 6. So, you wanna play a little baseball? Wanna beat a bat on the ground? Hug a base? Then come on out. We’d love to have you.


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