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This T-ball diamond sparkles

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Tommy Moore, 7, is a home run king. When he comes to the plate he requests that we raise the tee as high as it will go. It is a hollow, black rubber tube pushed down inside another hollow black tube. We usually keep about six inches of that hollow rubber tube sticking up and out from base. Tommy asks me to pull it up as high as it will go. I comply. I pull that tube up until there is about 15 inches of it showing. “Is that as high as it will go?” Tommy asks. I don’t know why, but I never pull it up and out as far as it will go. I see the look of suspicion on his face and decide to be honest. “No,” I admit and then pull it out as far as it will go. That tube now stands 20 inches above the base. The ball is now at Tommy’s eye level.

Satisfied with the height, Tommy takes a mighty swing (so mighty that when he missed the ball on a swing at his last at-bat he spun himself around a full 360 degrees, sending himself down and into the dirt). He connects on this try soon enough, hitting the ball lickety-split into and through the infield. Racing gloriously, delightedly, uproariously around the bases, he finishes in a dash across home plate, knocking the tee over with his left hand as he flies past.

Char Tom’s son Jaden Douglass, 6, a truly beautiful boy and impressive athlete, is a home run king, too. Batting behind Tommy, he’s a lefty, and he wastes no time at the plate. He winds up, his form near perfect, his power surprising and explosive. He smashes the ball off the tee, sending it skidding and hopping past the T-ball players in the field, sending it all the way into the grass of right field. And know this, all you T-ball friends and readers, this is an unusual event. Very few kids can hit the ball squarely enough or with enough power to actually knock the ball into the thick green grass of the outfield. But Jaden does it, then outruns everyone, child and parent alike (Char chased him laughingly, lovingly, pretending to try to catch him and tag him out), the boy zooming fantastically around the bases.

Audree Livingston, not yet 3, is so precious and lovely — she’s like a Disney child actor princess beauty. She loves the ball, ecstatic to chase one down, and then in a quite distinguished, seriously helpful way, she loves to place the ball on the tee. And place the ball she does. Faye Wheeler, 3, my “gimme five” jokester-partner delights and surprises me again: she has remembered this little game I played with kids a couple weeks back. They “gimme five” by swatting my outstretched hand with theirs, and the swat, their slap to and upon my hand, launches me an inch or two off the ground. Faye remembers that and comes at me me again, giving me five, slapping my hand, launching me off the ground again — and she knows what she is doing, laughing with great delight, her eyes flashing like diamonds in the sky every time I bounce off the ground.

Donovan O’Reilly, 3, was the first child out to the diamond tonight. He was running the bases when we showed up. He runs and bats and fields all night, never seeming to tire. (Oh! How some of us would love a moment to catch our breaths — but our work is not done, not till the last child has had his or her last turn at bat.)

It is goodbye to Morgan, 6, and Marina Gama-Lobo, 4, the two kids from Tanzania visiting their grandmother, Virginia Caudill. They both played well, having taken to T-ball, and the game of baseball, like ducks to water. We’ll miss them and look forward to seeing them again next summer.

Let me end with a short apology and correction: a couple weeks ago I called Myles Siemer, 8, a young Adonis with a personality as bright as a sunrise over the Rockies, and his little sister, Zoe, 7, the feisty darling who wanted to know why everyone forgot her name, by the wrong last name. I called them Stemmer, not Siemer. Sorry, Myles. Sorry, Zoe.

And that’s our Perry League, Yellow Springs’s T-ball program for all the community’s children ages 2–9 regardless of race, color or creed, sexual orientation, ethnicity, spiritual inclination, ability or disability. We’re at Gaunt Park every Friday night from 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 three Friday nights, till our final potluck, trophy-to-every-kid-who-shows-up night, Aug. 7. So, why don’t you come on out, be beautiful and awesome like all the rest of us. We’re sure you are and will happily tell you so, too.


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