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Erasmus “Raz” Thornton, Lidija Lackovich-Van Gorp, Maddy McGuire and Darija Lackovich-Van Gorp took part in some T-ball shenanigans on a recent Friday evening. Perry League T-ball ended last Friday night with an annual potluck, during which trophies were given to all participants. (photo by Suzanne Szempruch)

Erasmus “Raz” Thornton, Lidija Lackovich-Van Gorp, Maddy McGuire and Darija Lackovich-Van Gorp took part in some T-ball shenanigans on a recent Friday evening. Perry League T-ball ended last Friday night with an annual potluck, during which trophies were given to all participants. (photo by Suzanne Szempruch)

Amazing moms and dads of T-ball

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It says in our “Guide to Yellow Springs” entry that the Perry League is a self-supporting, all-volunteer beginners’ baseball program for all our community’s children regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, ability or disability, sexual, spiritual or religious orientation.

Self-supporting? We spent $1,800 this summer on T-shirts, baseball caps, a dozen new soft dot baseballs, and 100 trophies. We then sold the T-shirts (generating $1,100), gave away the caps and trophies, and asked people to donate to make up the difference — and they did and always have. People gave the league $400 over the first nine weeks and kicked in $300 on the final night. So, thank you, everyone, we raised exactly what we spent, ending 2014 season in the black (with funds to do it all over again next summer).

All volunteer? Well, besides the weekly miracles and delights and surprises that are our children, those amazing hilarious serious athletic animated nonstop creatures, our T-ballers themselves — besides them, the most wonderful and inspiring and gratifying thing about the Perry League is all our volunteers — the moms and dads, brothers and sisters, grandfathers and grandmothers, aunts and uncles, who make our program go.

Like Ben Bullock, Maggie’s dad, on first base every Friday, talking to kids, drawing them to him, guiding them, listening to them, sending them on their way (“Where do I go?” “When?” “What is a base?” “Why can’t I take the bat with me?” “Why? Why?” Don’t know? Just ask Ben.)
Like Amy Boblitt and her 9-year-old wizard whirlwind Lily, our bench and on-deck coaches — a pair of critical roles: getting the kids’ names, ensuring they get their turn to bat, helping them choose and swing a bat, and making sure no one gets hit by one of those miniature ballplayers warming up (I got hit just below and to the right of my right knee cap by a strong swift Mighty Mouse swing. It took my legs out from under me and I fell back to the turf, dropping like a bag of potatoes. Cyprian Sajabi was there immediately. Matt McGuire was there immediately. And Matthew Roberts, and Scott Fleming, and Nick Trimbach, too. They all rushed to me as I lay flat on my back, all deeply concerned, full of compassion and caring — this love and concern and unembarrassed willingness to care and nurture, one of the hallmarks of this uniquely Yellow Springs baseball program, lifted my spirits, humbled me, impressed me.)

Brian Rainey saved our potluck picnic one trophy night. We had crossed wires on who was going to bring a grill to cook all the hotdogs. None of us standing around the tables we were setting up knew what to do. Amy Boblitt told Brian and then she relieves us all: “Brian is going to get one,” she said. Besides fathering four of our most wonderful, talented, and loving kids, he saved our picnic!)

Geneva Gano, who taught me what a pun is, a pun her remarkable husband Josh Paddison made with his “Knock knock, who’s there? Lettuce. Lettuce who? Let us play some T-ball,” joke, she roams and roves the diamond, a sharp loving eye out for any trouble or difficulty, keeping us all safe. While Josh is so generous — he’s on the diamond most of the time every Friday night — and so brilliant, his thinking clear and so razor sharp he gives off an aura of rainbow-colored light.

Becky Reed is indispensable. An amazingly hard worker, a clear, forward-thinking program planner, she designs and makes our potluck sign-up sheets and our colorful fundraising chart of expenses and income with a thermometer to show how our fund raising is progressing — she gives her heart, fully committed to the central idea that this program is for the children.
The parents on the diamond are simply amazing. Hannah and John Purdin, loving, caring for, comforting, guiding, protecting their awesome child Sophia. Matt McGuire and Sommer McGuire are out there constantly, consistently leading guiding protecting helping, loving their remarkable apparition of a child, Maddy “Lefty” McGuire. They both love this league, love what we do, always wanting to help make it better, and they give their love completely, unconditionally — what a great comfort and abiding mystery, this love stuff, and how it flows so freely, so generously, so easily on the T-ball diamond.

Aaron and Carrie Campbell, another pair of champions, wheel the vivacious and lovely young creature, their daughter Mia (“Can I blow your whistle?” she always asks. Sure. Why not?) They show up with son Raven, a stunningly handsome and most interesting boy, and their youngest, Owen (not yet three), and another beauty, a cousin Reagan Grey.

Justin Crockett follows, protects, enjoys, chases after, and plays ball with his baby Eli, 3, whose older sister Lila is a textbook case for the mysterious and often unfathomable thing we call personality — she always asks as she comes to the plate, “Where do I put my feet?” And when I ask her what her name is, she spells it for me: “L, I, L, A. L, I, L, A.”

Sarah Hartman and Andrew Stillwell Current bring their most precious beauty of a child, the bright and fascinatingly articulate Ayla. Ayla and Emma Hall got the last two of our baseball caps, and their joy was so great you’d think they were a couple of actors just told they’d won an Emmy. “I got a hat! I got a hat! We got a hat!”

There’s more — with Nancy Sundell-Turner and her three remarkable progeny, the fleet-footed, gorgeous, quick, and athletic Jai, Sierra, Cheyan. Nancy’s at bat with them, runs the bases with them, keeps a watchful eye on them when they are on the field, and patiently tells me for the one-hundredth time which kid is which.

And Corrie Van Ausdal with Tiger (red-headed, lightly freckled, clear-eyed, kind) and Theo, a 3-year-old who will steal your heart with his Disney-movie-character good looks and little-beginning-warrior’s heart — Corrie watches him, follows behind him, beside him, running (walking, meandering) the bases with him — boy, this living with a toddler (or baby or middle-schooler) is a lot of work. And these parents and grandparents do some of this work for all of us at T-ball.

Such a festival of generosity, patience, and love is hard to contain, hard to resist — but watch out! It is liable to get you, to heal you, to mend some of the wounds you still carry in your heart and deepest soul. It sure has for me. And for that, and for all of you Perry Leaguers, all of you friends and supporters of this unique and wonderful Yellow Springs T-ball program, I say thank you. Thank you very big much.


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