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International night at t-ball

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They’re considerate, these T-ball kids. Cruz Drew, 6, took me aside around 7:30 p.m. to explain to me he was sorry, he didn’t have control over it, they had to go get his mom, so that was why he was leaving early. “Okay?” he said, his warm and genuine concern for me and my feelings was quite comforting. He knew how much I loved this T-ball, how much I loved him and his enthusiastic and talented play. I thanked him and told his dad about it, saying it meant a lot to me, and his dad gave me an animated thumbs up.

Then Cole Tremain, 4, told me at the end of the evening -— looking concerned, taking on an apologetic tone -— “I can’t be back tomorrow” (at the end of the night I ask the assembled gang of T-ballers, “Did you have fun tonight?” and “Are you going to come back next week?” inviting and encouraging them to yell and scream, “Yessss!”).

“You can’t,” I said to Cole.

“No,” he said, explaining, “I’m going to California tomorrow.” I told him I would miss him, thanked him for telling me, and then asked, “Are you going to come back later?” His face lit up softly, quickly, in mild surprise. “Silly,” he said  -—  he was calling me “Silly”  —  “of course I’ll be back!” I thanked him for his kindness and then told his dad what a great kid his son was.

Noelle Fisher, 6, was back with her mom, Mary, who threw balls out to kids. Her older brother, Dominick, 13, a former T-baller, came, too. He’s playing in the Yellow Springs Major Leagues this summer with the Winds Cafe Reds. He went three-for-three at the plate last Saturday, hitting a home run and earning four RBIs as well. He helped Noelle with her swing and ran the bases with her. Noelle is a serious and focused ball player in her own right, with a swing swift, strong, and true, another Fisher star in the making. Mary confirmed Dominick’s age, said, yes, he had played ball back in the day, and added that Noelle was wearing her 15-year-old sister Annelise’s Perry League T-shirt.

It was a bit of an international night with Tsong Benning Bright, 2-and-a-half, whose mother is Chinese. His dad said if I had trouble pronouncing his name Tsong (that “t” and “s” running together to make a sound you rarely — never? — hear in English), his dad said I could call him Benny.

Though Tsong never said a word when I was around, he understood he was to hit that ball off the tee and then run! His soft placid look transformed magically, the boy smiling with his whole muscular body, when he knocked that ball off the tee and took off for first base, looking suddenly like a much older child.

Tanner Miller, 3, is a beacon of joy and surprising information. “When I am waiting,” he said as he stood next the tee, waiting to hit, “I put my bat in my shirt, down my shirt.” And as he said this he was lifting his bat to his shoulder trying to, then succeeding at, sticking the bat under his collar. Which he did, which was a fairly challenging thing to do, that bat as long as he was tall, but he did it, sliding that whole bat into and under his T-shirt. We were both very pleased with this unique batter-at-the-plate preparation.

Ever Lyons, 3, came with her brother Ashbe, 6, the first time they’ve ever been here this summer. Ashbe is the Real Thing. He had on an authentic pair of baseball pants as white as a freshly fallen snow. He knew his way around a bat, his bright, intelligent eyes flashing with joy and that remarkable juice possessed by happy healthy six-year-olds. His little sister Ever thrilled me over and over with her unabashed, undiluted, 100 percent pure, happiness and joy. I asked her to “Gimme five!” when she came home, scoring a run. She’d slap my open hand and I would leap an inch or two off the ground with each of her swats as if her slap flipped a switch in me that lifted me into the air. And as I leaped her face flashed brightly, a quick, instantaneous explosion of surprise and delight. She was so animated, her face a blast of fire and light, which she thrust up at me, delighting and thrilling me because it seemed to me that each time she slapped my hand and saw me leap an inch into the air was the very first time she had ever seen such a remarkable and hilarious thing.

Remember I said it was a bit of an international night? Well, it was. Faye Wheeler, 3, an accomplished, skilled baseball player, good, quick, and strong at the tee, smooth and polished as a runner, has a British father — Jon said he’s been here, in America, for about five years. “Are you Australian?” I asked when I heard his accent. No, he said, and I was gratified that he did not appear to be offended.

Louise Camard, 4, is in town with her mom, Magdalena Zopf, and her dad, Christopher Camard. They live in France and have come “home” to Yellow Springs this and last summer (Mada grew up here; played T-ball herself many moons ago). Louise, bi-lingual like her parents, is a very quiet, but completely concentrated t-baller. She comes to the plate, surveys the scene, saying nothing, then hits the ball and takes off like a lion cub chasing after one of her lion cub siblings.

Rocket Cowperthwaite, 4, so totally unique and himself, is completely dedicated to hitting, running and fielding: he will chase a ball into the grass and when it stops and he is upon it, he goes through a little routine. He does a shallow half-squat in front of the ball and then gives a little hoot, a little shout of joy accompanied by a tiny leap, clearly an expression of joyful discovery: a ball! A ball! He picks the ball up and brings it back to the diamond.

And that’s our Perry League, Yellow Springs’s T-ball program for all our community’s considerate, surprising, and athletic children ages 2–9 regardless of race, color or creed, sexual orientation, ethnicity, spiritual inclination, ability or disability. We will be 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 five Friday nights, till our final wiener-roast potluck-picnic, trophy-to-every-kid-who-shows-up night, Aug. 5. So, why don’t you come on out, spend some time with us, and see these remarkable creatures, our t-ball children, for yourself? I am fairly confident you will be pleased.


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