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Jimmy Chesire discusses “dog, dog, deer. dog, dog,” with Maggie Bullock at home base at a 2015 Perry League game. (Photo by Suzanne Szempruch)

Jimmy Chesire discusses “dog, dog, deer. dog, dog,” with Maggie Bullock at home base at a 2015 Perry League game. (Photo by Suzanne Szempruch)

Those remarkable rascals of T-ball

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Spring is here, with summer right around the corner. And that means it’s time for the Perry League, Yellow Springs’ all-volunteer, 10-week T-ball program for kids 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. And it’s free.

If you’re interested, if your kid is interested, then show up June 1, the first Friday night of our 2018 season. We sell T-shirts, give every child a T-ball cap and get their names and ages for our weekly T-ball stories in the YS News. You can come to play ball with us or you can come to just watch. You can be a kid, a mom, a dad, a brother, a sister, an uncle, an aunt, a niece, a nephew, a grandma, a grandpa, a baby sitter, a nanny or simply an interested community member. You’re all welcome, you and your children, one and all.

Perry League’s a delightful, surprising, and often hilarious program — kids say and do so many interesting things, like what Josie Noble, 6, and his younger brother Keegan, 4, a pair of eager and animated fielders, did to me last summer. They would move in close to me at the plate, coming, say, within six feet of me, and then they’d fire the balls they had fielded at me as hard and as fast as they could. This “zing-the-coach” approach became quite popular as Desmond Truitt, 5, Zach Fink, 6, Corbin Hyatt, 4, and Eden Larkowski, 4, all closed in on me and then fired at will!

And there was Ashby Lyons, 7, another terrific athlete — he ran well, fielded superbly, batted like a much older boy. He was as happy as a poor man with a bag of gold the whole time he was on the diamond. And then he started collecting balls. He would field one, grab a second one he’d spied and chased down, scoop up a third, and was given a fourth. And then, with a satisfied-and-deliriously-happy-I-gotcha look on his face, he walked nonchalantly about the field, his arms full of balls. 

Or take Rocket Cowperthwaite, when he was 4, two summers back. He was a boy completely dedicated to hitting, running and fielding. He would chase a ball into the grass and, when it stopped and he was upon it, he went through a unique and fascinating routine. He did a shallow half-squat in front of the ball and then gave a little hoot, a small shout of joy accompanied by a tiny leap — clearly an expression of joyful discovery: A ball! A ball! — before he picked the ball up and brought it back to the diamond.

Every child is given the opportunity to bat, to hit the ball and run the bases; the opportunity to field the ball, to catch the balls hit off the tee, and throw them back to one of our many wonderful, happy-happy enthusiastic volunteers, who are both adults and caregivers and the kids themselves; a lot of our older kids — being 6 and up qualifies you as “older” in our program — love to throw balls out to the children in the infield after the child at bat has hit the ball off the tee. 

We throw out nine or 10 more balls after each kid bats, trying to make sure every child gets a chance to catch a ball, a chance to field a ball and a chance to throw it back to the volunteer coach tossing those extra balls out in the first place — though, of course, the kids don’t always just throw the balls back. Many of these T-ball players are natural comedians, full of mischief and merriment, who enjoy throwing those balls back at the person throwing them out — but as often as not, they prefer throwing these balls 10 feet over our heads, finding this surprising and inventive variation on their throw back to the volunteers unbelievably hilarious. And even if you’re one of the people throwing those balls out to these little rascals, even if you have to shag those far-flung balls flying over your head, running here, running there, running everywhere — even if you’re feeling a bit put out, feeling a bit sorry for yourself as you wonder, “Why can’t they just throw the darn thing back to me?” — even then, if you stop and look at these scamps and scallywags, these school girls and school boys, you’ll see their glee, their spirited animation and their vivid energizing buoyancy, and then you will know to thank your lucky stars to be on the same ball diamond with these remarkable manifestations of the divine. 

And that’s the Perry League, Yellow Springs’ T-ball program for all kids 2–9 years of age. Please come on out and play some ball with us. We’ll be out there at Gaunt Park from 6:30 to 8 p.m. for 10 Friday nights, starting Friday, June 1, and we’d love to have you. 

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