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At a recent Perry League game, Theo joined other youngsters in making intricate designs of chalk and dirt. (Submitted photo)

Perry League T-ball represents best of community

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By Coaches Yunus Brevik and Margi and Rob Gay

The modern game of baseball that is watched and played today is the result of many influences. Although there have been many iterations of the game, the basic principles remain the same.

Stick and ball sports with players running from base to base were first played in the mid-18th century. The games went by various names, such as stoolball, cricket and rounders. Abner Doubleday, one of the sport’s early pioneers, is credited with the creation of the modern game of baseball, a recognition which many refute: Although given the recognition, there is no documentation to confirm this claim. He is cited by numerous sources to have also fired the first shot in the Civil War from Fort Sumter. He was a fellow who appears to have lived a pretty interesting life.

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The modern game of baseball began to catch on in the mid-1800s, with the first game recorded as being played in 1839. Although the rules have changed and have been tweaked at different intervals in history, the basics of the game have withstood the test of time. There were notable revisions to the rules for Major League Baseball this past winter, some of which ruffled the feathers of the old-school purists: A game that had always been played without a time limit, is now governed by a pitch clock.

The game of baseball is simple in design, but complex in strategy; the scenarios in which the game can unfold are seemingly limitless.

Interestingly enough, the T-ball games on Friday night contain all of the elements one would witness in sandlots around the world. It is a sport embraced on a global level.

It was, is, and always will be, a sport that anyone can learn to appreciate. From the players on the field, to the spectators in the stands, or those with a mind for the analytics of the game, baseball has an attraction that’s hard to overlook.

Every Friday night in the months of June and July, we have the honor and privilege of playing this timeless game. And play it we do!

Fifty-three years ago, when Perry League T-ball began, the founders envisioned a game in which anyone could participate, regardless of race, color, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, spiritual inclination or practice, ability or disability. And it continues today.

Our rules are simple. We don’t keep track of outs or runs. Each player receives 1,000 strikes when at bat, therefore the risk of striking out is pretty much nonexistent. We don’t have designated teams, or require uniforms; you can play as you are. A player can choose to bat or catch balls in the field, or to do neither.

Kids’ participation strongly correlates to their individual attention span. Creating works of art by blending the elements of dirt and chalk is often an area of interest for our participants. The kids’ fascination with the chalk had a couple of them stick their hands directly into the line striper to dig in and understand how the contraption works — under Coach Rob’s watchful eye, of course.

This season, the lure of the Gaunt Park Hill has kids running up and rolling down whenever it strikes their fancy. Other players, typically older T-ballers, orbit the field engrossed in kid convos. The “Gravel Gang” congregates on the adjoining baseball diamond to play with dugout rocks and run the bases and other joyful activities.

Meanwhile, on the T-ball field, the grit and determination displayed by the players of all ages — some of whom have yet to turn 2 — is remarkable.

It’s a thrill for all when a child grasps a baseball for the first time, their face reflecting pure joy after catching their first ball. Often, mere moments later, you witness that same child as they dive headlong into a pile of other players as they scramble for a ball; the thrill of victory that radiates from their dirty, dusty face is priceless.

This past week, on June 23, we were entertained by sisters Isabel, 3, and Sophia, as they exhibited these very behaviors.

The grit and determination displayed in the field of play is unmistakable.

Oly, 6, after corralling four balls in a single round, suggested that his accomplishment must be a record, to which I replied, “you’re probably right!” Oly’s athleticism was on full display as he hustled around the bases with his game face most definitely ON, along with his green Crocs. His visiting Grandma was his biggest cheerleader.

Other players in the field display a different approach, one that is more measured and analytical in nature. Their little minds buzz along at incredible rates of speed, processing endless streams of information, all occurring in a completely natural manner as they strategically place themselves in the precise location that the next batted ball’s path will follow.

We witnessed this phenomenon last week as both Gates and Magnus exhibited the seemingly innate ability to do just that.

Then there are the heartwarming moments, such as the one Chuck, 6, shared during our game last week. It was imperative that I know the glove he was wearing was the one that his father had worn. A treasured piece of family sports memorabilia that was again put into play. The expression that radiated from his face was a blend of pride, humility and appreciation for its lineage. Chuck stood a little taller at that moment. Also good to know he was one half of the Mario Brothers. Chuck wore a red hat to represent Mario, and brother Harry, 5, a green hat for Luigi.

The skills exhibited by the players at home plate often provoke an enthusiastic response from the spectators. After all, sports experts often cite this fact: The physics of hitting a baseball is the most difficult feat to accomplish in sports.

We witness players that have finely honed their swing to perfection, allowing them to now launch baseballs in majestic arches into the outfield.

Our first batter of the night, Kai, launched a moonshot that easily cleared the dirt portion of the infield, landing solidly in the grass.

Poppy, 5, had a fantastic hit, then ran, and then wanted to hit again, and again. Hitting is her favorite. Well, except until she saw her mom — both hands flew up in the air to wave excitedly, “Hello, Momma!”

Gigi, 3, seems to love the caterpillar bat best, not so much for the hitting benefit, but due to the antennae on the bat perfect for tickling her dad. We love to hear Gigi giggle!

Faryn, 3, almost 4, a first-time Perry Leaguer, had a great at-bat as we admired her “Taters not Haters” T-shirt. 

Kelsey used a very effective underhand swing to pop her ball out into the field

Stevie, 3, a first-time hitter, had a great hit and followed it up by walking to first base on the chalk line as if walking a tightrope — nice touch!

And we love to see Joaquin, almost 5!, show up each week and smack that ball!

Phelix, 7, had a great hit on his first swing. As he came into home, he emphasized his nice run by smacking his foot on the plate, not once, but two, three, four, five … times.

Evelyn, 7, hit and ran into home plate in her pretty blue floral dress perfect for T-ball. She smiled shyly as we cheered for her. What a sweet little lady!

In other T-ball fashion news: Camilla, 3, had pink shoes and sunglasses she requested Coach Yunus take care of while she batted and ran bases; Nio, 4, sported a jaunty plaid fedora;  Ahva sported terry cloth pink shorts to match her pink cleats; Henry, age 6, decided to forego shoes and go barefoot; Emberlee, 4, wore embroidered bell bottom jeans, and her sister, Shiloh, 6, donned groovy floral pants, a la 1968; Allie sported darling ponytails and pink shoes, and had a hit to be proud of!

Elise returned for her second week of T-ball and ran all the bases, just in time for half time treats: No-added-sugar freeze pops. (Thanks so much, parents of Alma and Hayden!)

The most endearing quality of Perry League T-ball extends beyond the game itself. Perry League is about community. Much like the games held in the early days of the sport, local games played by amateur athletes of all ages and skill levels contain immense entertainment value. Those in attendance often have a personal connection with the participants. It could be a friend, neighbor, brother or sister, son or daughter, or often in our case, a grandchild. The forefathers of Perry League all recognized this indelible, incalculable, overwhelmingly important aspect of the game. The games bring people of all walks of life together in a place of harmony. It’s a place where we can connect with others, form new relationships and strengthen old ones. It’s a place in which we live, laugh and love one another in a simple yet powerful way.

It’s more than just a game; as the saying goes, “it takes a village.”

Please join us on Friday, June 30, at Gaunt Park for our community event, with two food trucks on-site serving at 5:15 p.m., or bring your own picnic dinner. Come early and consider walking or biking if possible. Usual Perry League T-ball will start at 6 p.m. Some fun additions to the usual Perry League include Mayor Pam throwing out the first ball, a very special birthday to celebrate with halftime treats, and much reminiscing and Perry League nostalgia. Adult T-ball will end the evening. Anyone who has participated in the past or has appreciated the YS News T-ball articles should come out. We hope to see you there.

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