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From left: Henry, Josie and Elsie sifted through the on-base dust on Friday, June 30 during Perry League’s “Midsummer Classic” event, which featured both youth and adult T-ball games. (Submitted photo)

Perry League’s ‘Midsummer Classic’ draws local sluggers

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By Coaches Yunus Brevik and Rob and Margi Gay

Many of those who arrived at Gaunt Park last Friday for the Perry League “Midsummer Classic” event were greeted by the unmistakable smell of french fries — an olfactory gift from a food truck and the first sign that this evening’s T-ball game would be distinct from the past several weeks.

You also would have noticed Becky’s many Perry League T-shirts displayed on the fence — one from 1999, one from 2011 and others from the years between. And if you were making the rounds among families, you also would have seen children, teenagers and adults wearing a variety of Perry League T-shirts and sharing memories of when they played or when their now-grown children played. Former coach and current Grandpa Chris made an appearance as well.

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Mayor Pam arrived in a vintage tie-dye Perry League shirt, along with her trademark top hat, and enjoyed socializing before the game. She helped make the night special by throwing out the first pitch to Becky, who has volunteered with T-ball for 28 years. Mayor Pam put a lot of thought into that pitch, many nods and headshakes involved, before settling on an underhand toss. Another difference this evening was the two separate games: First the children played, then there was an adult game after the break.

David, 7 — 8 in a few days — was first at bat for the third time this season. He didn’t go to the field for warm-ups; he stayed on the bench to hold his spot. His secret is now revealed. Beyond the first bat, the Badger crew was well represented: Grandma Christiane was there; Lasena; Leyna; Hezzy; Dan, who wore an ’80s Perry League hat; Sarah — thanks for passing out pizza and frozen treats; Benjamin; and Grandpa Chris.

Special thanks to the many others who helped this evening go smoothly, whether helping with treats or on the field, including Brooke, Aimee, Angie, Matt, Denny, Steve — and a few others whose names escape us. T-ball is an all-volunteer program. Please know how much we appreciate the help and are grateful for all the donations. Thanks to Beth for taking notes at each game. These articles wouldn’t be the same without her. She took on a new role during the game when Hezzy, 4, gave her a slice of pizza to hold while he took a turn at bat.

Second to bat was Kristoff, 7, who wanted it to be known his name has a “K with two Fs”. Harlan, 7, was third at bat. Before hitting he noted “that was a nice article in the paper the other week.” Thanks! We hope you read this one, too. We talked about the Mad River Theater Works performance, the reason why he missed last week’s game.

Many great conversations happen at the plate. Arlo, who made his first appearance this season, explained again how he goes by his middle name to help avoid any confusion since he shares the name George with his grandpa. Gwen, 7, came to bat with wet-and-recently-brushed hair. She had been enjoying the Gaunt Park pool before the game. Gwen also requested that she be announced as a big hitter.

At some point during the game, the children on the bench became a cheering section. It was actually more like a random screaming section, yet we’ll view it with positive intent and assume all the noise was celebratory for their fellow players. The energy was definitely high. Parker, 5, hyped herself up before batting and ran the bases with pure determination. Marco, 5-almost-6, had a line drive and sprinted the bases. Families brought the energy, too. Magnus, almost 2, had many family members helping him have a successful bat and run around the bases. Pippin, 2, had mom’s loving hand to hold as she made it to first. Benjamin, who is about a-year-and-a-half, was our youngest player, and his play was made possible with family support.

There were many other notable outfits in addition to all the vintage Perry League shirts. Theo, 4, and Phelix, 7, both wore Dayton Dragons gear. Isabel, 3, had rainbow clips in her fair, flower print pants, green socks and purple shoes. Evelyn, 6, had a pink butterfly outfit. Marin, 4, came with a tutu. Violet wore a unicorn backpack for her turn to bat. Josie, 5, ran so fast from third to home that her hat flew off halfway. Oly, 6, ran so fast to first that he lost a Croc on the way.

Nio, 4, used a new batting technique: He would use the momentum of taking a step with his front foot to bring more power to his swing. Others would take several practice swings, making sure the bat was swinging towards the ball on the tee, before winding up and letting it rip. Such was the case with Peanut — ”I have lots of names, but call me Peanut.”

Several batters offered reminders of why we use the chalk safety circles, especially the one marking our batter’s area. Shiloh, 6, threw the bat behind her and over her head after hitting. Hezzy, 4, tossed the bat about halfway to first after his hit. And Marty, 5, used an underhand toss to ditch the bat after his hit. Ronan, on the other hand, carried his bat to first, then second, and eventually all the way back home, after his hit.

Finally, it was interesting to see some of the older players decide that their hits need to be home runs. Mateo ran all the bases after his hit and let out a loud whoop when he made it home. Phelix, 7, ran all the bases after each of his hits. Kai, who consistently hits the ball into the outfield, ran the bases after his hit. David, 7, also had several inside the park homers. Allie, 7, who requested the tee as high as it goes because “I’m going to hit it really tall,” rounded all four bases on her hits, too. It was no coincidence that they waited on the bench together.

We took a break around 7 p.m. for cold treats and to make some changes on the field to accommodate the adult game. The yellow bases were removed so we could use the standard bases, and bats were exchanged for larger ones. Coach Yunus was first at bat and decided to go for moderation with a gentle hit that put him on first. He was concerned that if he swung too hard he’d require too many of the 1,000 allotted strikes. Up next was Paul, father of Noa and Faryn, whose RBI was supercharged. The crowd was not shocked as he looked quite amped to have a turn at bat. Cassidy, father of Evadene, looked determined to light up the ball no matter watt. He secured a home run. (Author’s note: it was impossible to resistor including bad jokes about these two electricians.)

Ben, father of Kai and Ahva, received encouragement before his turn since his two children are such heavy hitters. Jessica, mother of Callie, had a solid hit that landed her on first. It should be noted that Jessica’s husband Matt, who was at first, fortunately dropped the ball when it was thrown to him, and thus Jessica and familial harmony were safe. Lasena, mother of Leyna and Hezzy, pleasantly surprised her children by taking a turn at bat.

Chris, father of Harlan and Ida, appeared nervous, yet had no problem putting the ball in the outfield. Matt, father of Callie, had a line drive, yet was thrown out at third. Matan, father of Kai and Miko, took several practice swings before building up the confidence to make contact with the ball. Jacob impressed his children, Sarah and Erin, with his hit and trip around the bases. There were a few other family members at bat; forgive us for not having all your names. Our final adult hitter of the night was Jonathan, father of Phelix and Theo, who surprised himself by putting the ball deep in the outfield.

The adult game was well-attended. Thea, 7, said “I’m just really interested to watch this game.” Many young ones, including several who were engaged in other sand, chalk, or grass games during T-ball, sat along the third base line to watch the adults.

We are halfway through the season. Yellow Springs Perry League T-ball is an all-volunteer program that is non-competitive, free and open to children aged 2–9, regardless of their race, color, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, spiritual inclination or practice, ability or disability. T-ball will continue for the remaining Fridays in July. We hope to see you at 6 p.m. at Gaunt Park.


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