Aug
15
2018
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Sports

T-ball’s land of love and miracles

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Tanner Miller, in a bright-orange cap with some sort of super hero on it — Batman? — tells me as we line up to race to the outfield for our warm-up exercises, “I’m the oldest one here!” He is beaming proud. I say, “Yes,” wondering how he came up with this idea.

Alyvia Ashley is one-and-a-half. One-and-a-half! She stares at the tee with her bat plopped over her left shoulder. It is as long as she is tall. Way too heavy, I think.  It would be a little like you or me trying to hold an anvil in one hand — but this is T-ball, the land of love and miracles, where anything is possible. I help her lift and move the bat to her right shoulder, still worrying about this huge club, her bat, being too heavy, when this beautiful child takes a real and accurate and swift swing.  She misses the ball, hitting it backwards off the tee when she automatically swings that bat back to take another shot. Which she does, and by gosh, this 18-month-old darling hits a real grounder, a base hit!

Sydney Fisher, 4, is a quiet, concentrating batter. She briefly raises her eyes to look at me when I say, “Go ahead, hit that ball.” Then she drops her eyes and takes a moment. A little pause. Some mysterious 4-year-old calculation is being made.  Then suddenly this still portrait of natural beauty explodes like a coiled spring unsprung and she whacks the ball off the tee.

Maggie Bullock, 7, is a proud, straight-spined, gifted, whiz girl of an athlete. She needs no guidance as she holds the bat high, like a first-string high school varsity baseball player. She swings, misses, and is surprised. “Darn!” She quickly swings a second time, misses a second time, and is quite dismayed. “No!” she exclaims, looking embarrassed and perplexed. “Take your time,” I say. “You get 1,000 strikes in T-ball.”  

But that is not the issue. 

“I haven’t played in a couple weeks,” she says, explaining her troubled swings.  “Okay,” I say. And then on her third swing, she connects and takes off for first, racing through it and past it on her way to second, and then on to third, past it, and is racing for home plate and a home run! 

Which Elliot Shires, 6, does several times himself. A striking, leading-man attractive package of power and pizzazz, he looks like he’s been at this game for years.  Quick. Strong. Confident. And very friendly — a boy to watch.

Reese Tobias, 3, is a compact miniature model of perfect form. When she ran to first I marveled. Her running style was like a slow-motion video of one of the world’s greatest joggers. Her gait was even as she bounded from foot to foot, pumping her arms, her hands balled into fists, in this slow-motion-like rhythm that made it clear those pumping arms were the engine, the pistons, the power driving this divine machine. She’s 3 years old and is running textbook perfect. How does she do that?

Tanner’s little brother, Luke Miller, 4, as his dad, Sam, our second base coach, said, “has a mind of his own.” What? This year, Sam tells me, Luke is spending all his time at second base, the deep second base — we put down three bases of our own for Perry League, making the diamond a little smaller, a bit easier to get around without dying of a heart attack. “That’s because you’re there at second,” I said to Sam.  No, Sam says, last year he was at the near base, this year it is the far out one. “Why this love of second?” I wondered. “Who knows?” Sam said.  Just another of the many marvelous mysteries these T-ball children grace us with.

Jace Wilson, 6, comes late and displays the innate, spontaneous athletic ability so many of these kids show. Witnessing it is a pleasure that warms my heart. The children’s grace and pleasure, a miracle so often to be seen on this diamond, makes me a better, holier person. More loving and kind. More patient and calm. Thanks, Jace, for this blessing.

Meanwhile Tanner Miller, 7, was almost right about being the oldest one out here.  The only person older than he was the lovely, calm and competent Paige Clark.  She is 8, and with her faster-than-a-road-runner little brother Levi, 6, adds a bit of class to this wooly-bully T-ball program of ours.

And that’s the Perry League, Yellow Springs’ all volunteer, 10-week T-ball program for all 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.  We will be 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, trying to have as much fun as we can for the next nine Friday nights, till our final wiener roast potluck trophy-to-every-kid-who-shows-up night, Aug. 3. So why don’t you come on out and join in the fun?   We’d love to have you, we really would. 

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