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Perry League: T-ball kids keep astounding

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Ian Miller, 8, and his cousin Tanner Miller, 6, had Luke Miller, 3, between them as we lined up on the third base line to run out to right field to do our warm up exercises. Ian had Luke by the hand. “If I don’t hold his hand,” Ian explained, “he wanders off into the field.”

When Luke came to the plate to hit the ball off the tee he was like Tarzan and Atlas rolled into one: he was muscular and so excited about hitting the ball I thought he might explode. When he wound up to hit the ball the look on his face was astounding — a look of unbridled joy and a delicious, not-to-be-denied determination. His eyes were wide and giving off rays. His smile was a mouth opened wide enough to swallow a golf ball. His zeal and focus and nuclear-powered commitment to hit the ball were awesome. I said a quick prayer of thanksgiving to be allowed to witness such a marvelous child.

Evan Botkin, 5, and his good friend Rylie Sawdey, 5, stood side by side on the pitcher’s mound. “Are you brother and sister?” I asked. “No,” they both said, “we’re friends.” And competent ball players, too — when Rocket Cowperthwaite, 5, hit a powerful, 90-miles-per-hour line drive, which hit Rylie square in the chest, we three closest coaches were stunned and alarmed. Rob Gay at the pitcher’s mound marveled, as did Westley Richeson on the first base line where he was throwing out balls with the help of one of our home run hitters, now-volunteer kid-coach, Tommy Moore, 9.

“Can you believe it?” Rob said. “No,” Wes said. “No,” I said. We couldn’t believe that Rylie had not batted an eye at this fiery-hot line drive that had just drilled her. We expected tears, a bit of emotional commotion. But no. What we got was this beautiful 5-year-old casually picking up the ball to throw it to Wes. No big deal.

Louise Camard, 5, is back, this year with her little sister Julia, 3, joining her on the diamond.

“I was in Paris,” Louise said to me at the beginning of our warm up exercises. Then about halfway through the evening she started to bring me balls — one, two, even three — whenever I needed one. She paid close attention to me. When I had no ball, she leapt forward. It was a particular and highly complimentary pleasure to have such service and attention from such a bright and articulate 5-year-old T-ball star.

Henry Wiseman, 8, an old veteran of Perry League, knew the exercises we were about to do before we did them.

“I’m impressed,” I said about his memory, but he let it roll off his back: “I’ve been playing for years,” he said, as if that explained it. He and his singing little brother Hugh, 6, who sang a song to us, one he’d made up, last summer, will fly back home to Texas this week. “How long can you play?” Henry asked as we walked off the diamond at the end of the night. “Till you’re 9 or 10,” I said, stretching our 2–9 age-range a bit because I loved playing ball with this boy so much.

“It should be 20,” he said, and my little-boy’s-often-insecure-heart leapt for joy. “Yes, it should be 20,” I agreed. “I’d like that.”

Cara Dahlberg, 3, ran in a wide circle around and away from her mom Jackie. Her brother Brendan, 6, is playing on a team in the little league this summer. Brendan was a naturally nurturing and helpful boy last summer, showing kids how to hold the bat, how to swing. And even putting up with me when I thought he said his name was Brendan Dogburger when he said Brendan Dahlberg.

Brady Bistline, 5, was one of the first and most animated run-run-run players on the diamond. His mom, Elizabeth, sitting with her husband, Michael, and their other two beautiful children, said she’d played T-ball when she was a kid, had been written about in one of our articles back then, and mentioned she was a Nosker. “As in Gussie?” I asked excitedly. Yes, Gussie was her grandmother, a wonderful woman I had worked with years ago in another life in the old Antioch College’s registrar’s office.

Our Tanzanian players were with us again — they came last summer. Morgan, 8, clear-eyed, as handsome as Cary Grant, is skilled as a batter, swift as a runner, and sweet and kind as a person. His lovely athletic sister Marina, 6, is excellent at bat and smooth and quick running the bases. The baby Mayan, 2, loved-loved-loved the idea of hitting a ball off the tee; loved-loved-loved chasing it and bringing it back to the tee to hit it again. Their mother Mara Gama-Lobo, shepherded them all, keeping a special eye on the little one, making sure they were all safe and having fun.

And that’s the Perry League, Yellow Springs’ T-ball program for girls and boys, 2–9 years of age. It’s the village’s non-competitive, beginner’s baseball program for all our community’s children regardless of their race, color, creed, sexual orientation, ethnicity, spiritual inclination-or-practice, 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 come every week — come when you like, come when you can. We’ll be out there for the next five Friday nights, till our final potluck trophy night, Aug. 4. So why don’t you come on out and play some ball with us? Or watch us play? We’d love to have you, we really would.


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