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Sep
20
2020
Sports
Ella Bristline, 3, took off for the base, leaving Topher Besson, 3, on the bag and in the dust on Friday's Perry League T-ball game. (Photo by Luciana Lieff)

Ella Bristline, 3, took off for the base, leaving Topher Besson, 3, on the bag and in the dust on Friday's Perry League T-ball game. (Photo by Luciana Lieff)

Perry League — T-ballers play through rain, rainbows

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Tanner Miller, 8, comes trotting across the diamond smiling, handsomely offering to help me put the bases out. 

“You gonna play with us tonight?” I ask, hoping. He’s been starring in the Little League for two summers now. 

“I don’t know,” he says, handing me a ball someone had taken out of our bat-and-ball-and-bases bag.

The swimming pool had closed just as our evening began. 

“They close for 30 minutes when they hear thunder,” our chief-infield-pitcher’s-mound-children-organizing-and-protecting, phenomenal volunteer Rob Gay tells me. 

“Should we cancel?” I wonder aloud. 

I don’t have my “Lightning Safety Precautions” flier from NOAA/National Weather Service with me. It says, “When thunder roars, go indoors!” And “If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.” Plus “When you hear thunder, immediately move to safe shelter: a substantial building with electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with the windows up.”

We don’t hear thunder. There were dark clouds to the east of us, and more to the west.

But people keep showing up, keep coming to the diamond.

We decide to play.

I tell parents and adults and older-siblings-caretakers what our policy is if we see any lightning: “We see lightning, we pack it in. We go home.” People nod, assenting, understanding, agreeing. “Okay, so if any of you see lightning, let us know. Okay?” 

Okay.

And so we begin our fifth night of T-ball. Five minutes into our 90 minutes of play, it begins to sprinkle. The raindrops are chilly, especially in this 90-degree heat. 

“No! No!” I say to the sky. “We do not want to be rained out.”

Amandine Bouquet, 5, delighted in her ball cache on Friday's Perry League T-Ball game (Photo by Luciana Lieff)

Amandine Bouquet, 5, delighted in her ball cache on Friday’s Perry League T-Ball game (Photo by Luciana Lieff)

Luke Miller, 5, Tanner’s little brother, comes to the plate. Luke is athletic, physically comfortable in his body, which appears to be nothing but beautifully sculpted muscle. He’s a lefty — we have three or four lefties tonight: Leyna Badger, 6, Zaria Triplett, 5, (who’s in town from Austin, Texas with dad Chris, who played T-ball 35 years ago!), and Johnny Besson, 6, who is a switch-hitter, hitting both left-handed and right-handed.

Luke Miller hit the ball off the tee with an accurate swing, hitting only ball, not hitting the tee, showing the power of a much older, more experienced Little Leaguer.

By the time beautiful Kate Marshall, 7, comes to the plate, it is raining lightly, steadily, with the sun still shining. Looking above everyone’s heads, looking to the sky, I see the steady, bright rainfall as clear as seeing a goldfish in a goldfish bowl in some 10-year-old kid’s bedroom. But no one complains. We all see it, we all feel it, and we simply keep playing.

Aspen Reitsma, 4, is becoming an excellent, proficient T-ball player. Her intelligence is clear in her eyes. You can see how strongly she can, and does, focus her attention. Though it is a thrill and very wonderful to witness all the variety and depth of the physical skills these kids show, I still see 2- and 3-year-olds come to the plate, having trouble carrying their bats, and I am thinking in the back of my mind, this kid will never hit a ball. But thrillingly, quite delightfully and wonderfully, these self-same little ones strike the ball, knocking it off the tee, sending it scooting across the diamond. 

Miniature Ella Bistline, 3, her bat longer than she is tall, surprises and delights me with a windmill swing. What she does is wind up to swing by twisting around at the waist until she is almost twisted in half like a pretzel, so she has to look back over her shoulder to see the tee. Then not looking at the ball or tee, she unleashes herself, whirls around, bringing that bat with her — and about every fifth or sixth unleashing-whirl-around swing, she hits the ball and it is suddenly sizzling across the diamond, sending it through the feet of the dozen children standing, waiting, hoping, in the middle of the infield. And then her twin Parker, 3, comes to bat and he swings and misses, and swings and misses, and swings and misses, and swings and misses — you get a thousand strikes in T-ball — and on his 411th swing, he finds his target. In the blink of an eye, he’s racing lickety-split to first base.

It is still raining when Fiona Garcia, 5, running with her father Angelo, comes to hit the ball out of the park — which she does and around the bases they do run. It still rains when Violet Ficke, 4, knocks the ball off the tee. And rains some more as Amandine Bouquet Sabre comes carrying three balls, one for the tee, one for me, and the other, which she cheerfully and quite possessively keeps to herself. The rain lets up for a minute when Reese Tobias, 4, comes to take her licks, getting her base hit, being the latest stunning beauty to grace our diamond. It only stops raining after Elliott Craig, 7, comes to hit — he’s been playing T-ball since he was 2. He’s yet another excellent baseball-playing T-baller we’re lucky to have on our team, who, it turns out, brought the evening’s second rainbow with him when he came to the plate.

And that’s our dazzling Perry League, Yellow Springs’ T-ball program for all kids 2–9 years of age, regardless of their race, color, creed, sexual orientation, ethnicity, spiritual inclination or practice, ability or disability. Kids can begin play at any time, and there is no requirement to play every week. We’ll be out there at Gaunt Park from 6:30 to 8 p.m. for the next five Friday nights, and we’d love to have you. We really would.

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