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Yucky balls and divine mud

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It’s been an unusually wet month. WHIOTV7 weather says we’ve had 4.04 inches of rain this month and that the normal amount of rain in July is 2.91 inches – that’s 1.14 inches above normal. Friday, July 14, figured to be more of the same with chances of thunderstorms predicted at 8 a.m., at 5 p.m. and at 9 p.m. A rainy day for sure.

But though it was cloudy at 6:30 p.m., our T-ball start time, it was not raining, so a dozen or so of us — thirteen kids and five adults — went ahead.

“It’s raining!” Lilly Clair Colon, 8, said after we’ve done our warm up exercises, just moments before the first child came to bat. “No! No! No! Let’s get a batter. Let’s start before it’s too late,” I said. Evan Botkin, 5, went first, a strong boy hitting the ball well, hitting home runs in his last five times at bat. Erin Fink — “She’s 6 now,” her mother Pam told me — comes to the tee. She, too, is a strong, smart, athletically gifted child. She pops one past the pitcher’s mound, and with the rain falling pitter-pitter pitter-patter, pitter-pitter pitter-patter, she’s off to first base.

Adelia Colon, 5, came next. She looked a bit moist. I was feeling a bit moist myself. The rain, though not hard, continued to come. If you were sitting in your living room, it would look like a light sprinkling rain. But if you’re playing T-ball at Gaunt Park, it’s a steady, annoying, chilling, softly falling rain.

Rocket Cowperthwaite, 5, a home run hitter, came to the tee, his hair soaked and matted to his head by all the pitter-pitter, pitter-patter of the rain. ”Oh my goodness,” I thought, looking at his matted hair, “We’ll never make it. Look at how wet he is!”

But he was a natural, a boy right out of “Tom Sawyer,” a real champion of a boy, the rain apparently not fazing him one little bit.

Meanwhile, the infield is getting softened by the rain. The small puddle near the home plate glistens in its fresh coat of summer rain. A new one is developing at third.

Adelia came up a second time. “I’m wet,” she said and I saw she was pretty soggy. “I’m not going to play anymore.” I nod, telling her I was sorry. Her graceful and lovely big sister Lilly Clair, 8, came to the tee with her and she concurred with her little sister: “I think I’ll stop, too.” 

Ian Miller, 8, in a red Cincinnati Reds T-shirt was as neat as a pin — and as hilarious as he has been all summer, doing the crumpled rumpled mouth-full-of-marbles voice of Pigeon Toady, a character from the film “Storks”, who Wikipedia describes as “an awkward, nosy pigeon working at Cornerstone who is eager to get any kind of attention.”

The rain stopped. Started again. Stopped a third time and started again. And slowly a mud transformation was happening. Tanner Miller, 6, a skilled, vibrant and vivacious athlete, stomped into the puddle near home plate. As did Rocket Cowperthwaite at third base before he came flying home — it has been sprinkling lightly, sprinkling steadily, sprinkling plenty, off and on, for an hour. Louise Camard was squatting at third base, her hands in the mud. Her little sister Julia, 3, joined her in making mud balls. Together they stirred up and sat in and squatted over and in the mud. Julia came to home plate where the muddy messy marvelous puddle and mound of mud there was too enticing, a wonder not to be resisted. She stood in it, her feet submerged, her smile only visible because of the white of her teeth. Natalia Ramirez, 5, clean as a whistle, joined Julia in this perfectly divine swath of mud and in no time she became another mud-caked darling. Then Louise brought me a “yucky ball,” a ball coated with and dripping in mud. Then Evan Botkin brought me one. And Julia, too. And another dirt-free beauty of a boy, Francisco Ramirez, 3, came to stand in and near this fantastically attractive mud spot.

Rylie Sawdey, 5, came to bat amidst this swampy drama, not a bit of mud on her. She hit the ball three, four, five times, somehow managing to stay clean and mud free. Meanwhile I was holding three, four, five “yucky balls” clutched to my chest, and my bright “safety yellow”-colored Perry League T-shirt had become toast brown. Julia was on her knees in that ten-foot-long and four-foot-wide mud morass by home plate. 

“This isn’t T-ball,” Erin Fink exclaimed. “It’s mud ball!”

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’ll be at Gaunt Park for the next two Friday nights — July 28, Aug. 4 — from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Children can begin to play at any time and there’s no requirement to come every week. So why don’t you venture forth and join us at the diamond? We’d love to have you, we really would.


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