Little League Baseball From a Mom's Perspective… Why I Love This Game

July 16th, 2009


I grew up in a house full of girls.  Neither my sister nor I were athletes. We both preferred dance, drama and music with all the accompanying sequins, to basketball, volleyball and track and the subsequent boxy uniforms with polyester racing stripes.  I did give sports a weak and shaky try in junior high, but I quickly came to  realize that my pathological fear of the ball was forever going to preclude me from success on any athletic court or field.  Call me crazy, but when I see a ball hurtling towards my head at sixty miles an hour, all my instincts tell me to hit the deck!  The idea of smashing the speeding spheriod with some implement or worse… a part of my own body was clearly ludicrous to me. The sidelines, which were populated by girls in cute pleated skirts, saddle shoes and pom poms quickly became my favored position to play on any athletic field.   

 

 

 


The years passed.  I got married and I found myself personally involved in a rapid string of pregnancies that resulted in four bald headed, blue eyed, bouncing, baby boys.  Theses babies grew and at the tender age of two, my husband placed a small plastic bat in their hands and taught them to bat left.  

 

 

 

“Why are you making my baby bat left, when he is clearly right handed?”  I asked my young husband as he pitched the seven hundredth ball of the afternoon towards my infant son.

“It puts him one step closer to first base,” my husband replied as we both watched our two year old connect and send the ball flying into the depths of our tiny living room as if he had been batting left his entire life… which he basically had been.

 

 

 


 


Every Spring as my boys have advanced from t-ball to coach pitch and upwards, I have sat and watched the first baseball practice of the season.  There almost always comes a point when the coach trots out to home plate and attempts to physically switch my various sons from one side of the plate to the other explaining that they need to bat right because they are right handed.  

“This is the way I bat,” my son would try to tell the coach.

“Are you left handed?” the coach asked.

“No,” my son replied.

“Then you bat right” the coach answered trying to swing my boy to the other side of home plate.

“But this is the way I have always batted,” my child pleaded as he attempted to wriggle away from the coach back towards the other side of the plate.

“If you’re right handed, you bat right,” the coach announced decisively. 

Suddenly, I found myself shakily rising from my seat in the bleachers and hesitantly stepping towards the backstop.  ”He bats left,” I hoarsely whispered with all the conviction of a turnip. 

“No ma’am… your son is right handed… he bats right,” the coach answered brusquely as if I were a turnip.

“Uh… well… he has been batting left since he was two,” I nervously replied.

The coach eyeballed me and quickly assessed that I had never held a bat in my hands much less hit a ball.  He reached to pull my son to the ‘right’ side of the plate when suddenly I remembered the words of my young husband in the tiny living room so long ago. 

“He bats left,” I said. “It puts him one step closer to first base.” 

The coach released my boy, looked at me with new respect dawning on his face, and allowed my son to bat the way he has batted since his infancy.  

 

 

And so began the epic journey of Little League baseball for each of my sons.

 

 


Of all the sports that my boys play, baseball is easily my favorite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I like it because every kid gets a chance at bat, and while there may be positions on the field with more built in ‘glamour’ than others, every single fielder has the potential to make a great play.

 

 

 

 

There are still plenty of insane coaches, and parents who have lost their minds, but there is also an innate democracy in baseball that transcends the madness.  Even the weakest player on the team can hit a doinker past the pitcher and get an RBI.  Even the kid who gets tossed carelessly in right field inning after inning after inning can make a fabulous catch and hurl it to second base for a double play.  It is against the rules to sit a kid on the bench the entire game.  Everyone gets to play.

 

 

 
  

 


In football one, two or maybe three boys get to actually touch the ball or score a touchdown.  In basketball, only five kids at a time get to be on the court while everyone else sits and waits.  But in baseball, there are nine kids on the field.  No one except the batter on the opposing team has any control over where that ball is going to go and who might get to make the next great play. There is an air of expectancy as each new batter comes to the plate.  No one knows what is going to happen and everyone on the field has to be ready, watchful and totally in the game.  

 

 


 

Baseball may lack the crisp autumn air and the marching bands of a football game.  It may not have March madness and electrifying slam dunks, but of all the millions of games that I have watched my boys play, it is the only one I have seen with a built-in assurance that everyone has a shot to make something happen during the game.  And if they are willing to work hard to improve, pay attention, step up to the plate and swing for the bleachers they can make something happen on a regular basis. That’s why I love this game… and also… it moves at a slow enough pace for my feeble mind to understand what is going on…

oh and also… they might not have any sequins, but baseball uniforms are pretty darn cute.

Comments

  • Meg:

    Glad to see you back, Rechelle. I was worried about you….

    ~ from one who lives in the land of sequins and pink tulle.

  • jamoody:

    Glad to have you back!!!

  • Linda:

    You explained baseball so well…Fastpitch softball that my granddaughter plays is really all in the pitcher’s arm. Enjoy your website.

  • Very nicely put!

  • Hey Rechelle, welcome back to the blog. Did you get lots done in your time off?

    I REALLY need you to come and explain all this to a certain coach in our community. The one with the stars in his eyes and his own son on a pedestal. In minors he kept my kid on the bench for the whole season. I think my boy got two at-bats the whole season. I even wrote the, ahem, “guy” a polite letter of protest that my son was not getting in the game but was cooling his jets on the bench every time. And my kid was a healthy, strong, strapping boy who wanted to play.

    Maybe you could do a seminar here of how baseball is a game where everyone plays. They need to know that around here!

  • Sorry Clayvessel – that really sucks. Everyone bats in our little league. Everyone is automatically in the line-up. Thank God! Maybe a rule change is in order in your part of the country. It works out great here. We still have insane coaches that build an altar to the ‘usually average’ athletic ability of their own kids, but everyone gets in the game.

  • I much prefer baseball over any other type of kid’s sport, currently. I can’t imagine having 4 boys involved in baseball! My daughter finished up her softball league last month but we are dealing with my son’s all star games which my husband is coaching, every night, while trying to make hay for our animals, and then there is his day job of being the boss of his veterinary practice. Can you say, large glass of wine every night about 6 o’oclock? It’s crazy, but I love watching my son play!

  • In some ways, I miss baseball/softball. I kept score for a couple leagues for many years (mostly adult slow pitch). There’s nothing that says summer more than a baseball game.

    My kid likes to hit lefty, but the hubby keeps trying to get him to go right. I always thought being lefty gave you an advantage. And hubby is a sports nut, so *shrugs*. The boy is all of 2…seems that must be the age. (He does golf righty..)

  • Nice post!

    Baseball is a superior sport. You can’t glitz it up, no matter how hard you might try!

  • HA nice… I’m a lefty and bat/pitch right. Threw my dad for the biggest curve of all when I threw the right-hand glove at him at the age of 7 and told him it was broken. Your boys rock ;)

  • What glorious photos! Baseball is so intrinsically American – to me the outsider… It also seems such an egalitarian game where everyone gets his or her go.. I like that!

    And remember – you can always sew sequins on their baseball costumes – oops, uniforms!

  • Gwynne:

    PLEASE, PLEASE enjoy this time to the fullest. My boys are 23 and 20 and I miss watching them play sports so much! The time goes by so fast and before you know it, they are off to college or working and that’s the end of sports.

  • Maryanne:

    Hi Rechelle-
    Loved this post! I am the oldest from a family of four. The first 2 are right/right. The third, my sister, used a crayon with her left hand since she was 1 yr. old. She learned to bat right handed tho. If my mother was around, she would tell you that she watched my dad switch the hands on my baby brother when he would pick up a bat as a toddler. He loved baseball and being at the ball field with the rest of us. So, the boy writes right handed, but always batted left. My dad denied it, but no one believes him.