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T-ball’s constantly moving maelstrom

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We had so many kids show up for T-ball last Friday that I asked a mom-and-grandmom sitting on the bench with the kids to count. “Count?” she said. “They’re all moving!” But she agreed to try. I dived back into the maelstrom of our wonderfully delirious children, got caught up in T-ball’s marvelous madness and forgot to go back to my mom-and-grandmom to get her name and or her count. Sorry, Mom.

Ayira Carley, 4, and her sister Angela, 3, were back, Ayira hitting better and stronger, running faster, more smoothly each week. And the lovely sprite Angela was whacking the ball and racing to first like an Olympic sprinter. David Scott, 5, was smashing and bashing the ball out of the park, sitting happily in the dirt as often as not. Lucy Shows-Fife, 5, an animated firecracker of a darling, tried to teach me how to correctly pronounce the “Shows” in her last name — not the “Shows” that rhymes with “goes.” No, it’s the “Shows” that rhymes with “cows.” Yes? Right?

“What is your name?” I asked the boy who was so alive he could be a human-sized Fourth of July sparkler.

“Brendan Dahlberg,” he said.

“Dogburger? Brendan Dogburger?”

(You never know: Sophia Anderson, 8, said her name was “Hot Dog.”)

“Dahlberg!” Brendan reiterated.

I still could not distinguish the syllables. It still sounded like “Dogburger” to me, but I let it go, sure I was wrong if the exasperated look on his face was any clue, and he, Brendan Dalhberg Dogburger, swatted a ball lickety-split right through the legs of a dozen champion T-ball infielders.

Sophia “Hot Dog” Anderson helped her little brother Ronan, 5, at the plate. Her littlest brother Pierce, 4, the boy who hummed me a tune last week when he came to the plate, he chased all over the diamond and into the grass next to it, eagerly in pursuit of every single ball he could find. The electrifying thrill he had when he got his hands on a ball was inspirational. And educational: this was the excitement and joy I could know in my life now? Such full-bodied, full-spirited pleasure was natural? I, too, could have such unbridled exuberance? Yes, yes, yes.

Lilly Claire Colon, 7, threw balls out to the children from along the first base line. Several kids helped her — Lucy Shows-Fife, her good friend Rudy Wyant and Tommy Moore among them. Rocket Cowperthwaite, 4, was back, the boy a smoothly but constantly exploding creature of joy — he was delighted to be here, excited to bat, taking a nearly perfect professional baseball player’s stance at the plate and then he swung so hard, having put himself so completely and thoroughly into his swing that when he missed on his first swing, he spun himself completely around, a complete 360 — if he were a cartoon character he would have turned into a screw and would have drilled himself into the earth.

Faye Wheeler at 3-and-a-half, as tiny as a golden gnat, hit well and ran as swift as a sun-beam. Lucy DeFinis, 5, a dark-haired, dark-eyed beauty, was quick to hit, fleet in her flight around the bases, and was as generous as a holy queen, giving balls she caught to kids smaller, younger than she. Like to sweet Adelia Colon, 4, who asked me earlier while holding her dad Karl’s hand, where I had been? What? I said. “You were late,” she explained. It was 6:20 p.m. We start at 6:30 p.m. “We were early,” Karl said, saving me, thank you. Malorie Linineer, 6, was back. A quiet, unassuming, gorgeous child, she swung the bat easily, making good solid hits, and then ran fluidly, moving gracefully, beautifully, like a carefree gazelle prancing on the Serengeti.

Willow Scavone, 3, was back for her second summer (can that be? She started at 2? Yes?) She was soft, lovely, careful, and attentive. You look in their eyes and you see how intently they are watching you, parsing the world you and they are living in. It is quite thrilling, all this intelligence. Noelle Fisher, 6, was back for her third, maybe her fourth summer. Another very smart one, her gaze penetrating, her demeanor tolerant and forbearing as I tried to spell her name — N O E L L E? Is that it? Yes, she nodded, smiling patiently. Quinn Clonch, 4-and-a-half, was a ball player’s ball player. He was so engaged, seeking, finding, pursuing every ball he could, then bringing them to the tee — if those balls were solid gold or pure, hot buttered popcorn, he couldn’t have liked them more. Avery Tobias, very bright and quite patient and mature beyond her six years, helped me figure out her last name, spelling it six or seven times for me before I finally got it.

And that’s our Perry League, Yellow Springs’s T-ball program for all our community’s bright and generous, loving and rambunctious 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 to 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 seven Friday nights, till our final potluck-picnic, trophy-to-every-kid-who-shows-up night, Aug. 5. So, why don’t you come on out, and be with us and these amazing kids -— and if I ask you to do a head count for us, I promise I will remember to come back and ask you your tally. Honest.

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