Sep
18
2018
Partly Cloudy
Tuesday
High 87° / Low 64°
Clear
Wednesday
High 86° / Low 66°
Sports

A thrill to see T-ballers fly

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The evening began with a gift. Russell Besson, 13, a T-ball graduate, came up to me with a large, blue-cloth-covered-something-or-other. He told me they’d heard, he and his mother, Layla Besson, that our current bat-and-ball and hand-sweeper bag was old, falling apart. “Yes, yes! It has holes in the bottom,” I said, “and bats are falling out of it.” So, we thought this might help, Russell said, and he unfurled the sky-blue cloth thing revealing it to be a large equipment bag — specifically, a 30-inch long, 10-inch wide, 10-inch high Champro Oversized All-Purpose Bag, big enough to hold 12 basketballs and all the equipment a Little League team needs. Wonderful!

To top things off, Layla and her son Russell had “PERRY LEAGUE” printed on one side in two-inch high yellow letters and our philosophy in half-inch high yellow letters on the other side, announcing that “T-ball is for all our community’s children regardless of their race, color, creed, sexual orientation, ethnicity, spiritual inclination or practice, ability or disability.” Awesome! Thank you, Russell and Layla!

Lily Miller, 12, was back, again throwing balls out to the kids from the first baseline. She was shining, bright, energetic and kind, efficiently delivering a ball to me after each kid hit, a ball for me to put on the tee for the next child up. She also forgave me for getting her age wrong in our first article — I said she was 10! — covering our June 1 opening night. Thank you, Lily.

We had a bevy of home run hitters — Tanner Miller, 7; Paige Clark, 8; Natalia Ramirez, 6; Thomas Stratton, 5; Johnny Besson, 5; Erin Fink, 6; Ashby Lyons, 7; Hugh Wiseman, 9; Elliott Craig, 6; and Tomé Rios, 7. These kids hit the ball solidly, sending it shooting through the legs or past the kids in the infield, then raced around the bases, running non-stop, and usually at full steam. It amazes and thrills me to see them fly.

Some though, like Ashby Lyons, start their home run race around the bases by walking to first. Which is one of the interesting mysteries of these remarkable T-ball children: some will hit the ball well and then simply stand there at home plate. Watching their ball and the kids chasing after it. But not moving. And when they are induced to run, they walk, and quite deliberately, quite slowly. Like Ashby did. It’s like Jack Benny casually strolling across the stage in his wonderful 1950–1965 TV show, “The Jack Benny Program.” 

We always have patient parents helping their little ones at the tee. Emilee Partee Fleming was there lovingly, attentively, and patiently with her 3-year-old rascal Derrick who can’t seem to do more than knock the ball off the tee. Or like many T-ballers, he hits the ball with the wrong end of the bat when he brings the bat back for a second try and hits that ball in that winding-back-up process

Ben Stratton, too, is a model of loving and patient parenting. He helps his 3-year-old fence-climbing son, Oscar. Ben shows Oscar how to hold the bat, how to hold his elbow away from his body — a very foreign and odd-feeling-position for many T-ballers — and how to swing. And with a miss, Ben does it again. And again. Then Oscar connects, knocking the ball three feet out. “Is that a hit?” Ben asks and I admire this accepting, permitting, patient style. Oscar nods yes and with Ben’s prompting, he takes off for first base.

Jonathan Linderman, 4, is here with his mom and dad and older brother who is playing a Little League game on the next diamond. Jonathan is one of those strikingly attractive young T-ballers with his startlingly clear, sparkling, blue eyes that always remind me of Paul Newman. 

Bridger Longworth, 6, got me to understand his name — “Bridge–ur,” he said. “Bridge–ur,” I said. Nora Carr 4, had shorts on this week. Last week in the 92-degree heat she came in her swimsuit. A good idea, many of us thought. Amelia Linse, 5, was high energy and played well. She is a good athlete, looks like a future champion long-distance runner. Keep your eye on her. Zander Breza, 5, was his usual engaged, active throwing, running, and ball-hitting dynamo. His dad, Mark Breza, leading the gang of kids throwing balls out from the first baseline, is so loving, so giving, so tuned into the kids he’s playing with, kids he’s working with, that I say prayers of praise and thanksgiving.

And that’s our miraculous 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. 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 at Gaunt Park for the next four Friday nights, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., trying to keep up with these marvels of life and energy and perpetual surprise. Why don’t you come out and feast your eyes and enrich your souls right along with the rest of us? We’d love to have you, we really would.

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