So yeah T-Ball.
I never played organized stuff as a kid. My first experience with organized sports was my senior year in high-school. The Track team needed a pole-vaulter. I was the only idiot to volunteer, so the job was mine. Nice. Obviously I survived, but I had a few close calls. Anyway, now I have to get involved in this stuff because Frank is trying a myriad of sports for that well rounded foundation before we turn our laser focus on building his pro golf career.
But man, T-Ball.
Eight kids standing on the infield as a kid stands at the plate and hacks at the ball set on a tee.
Try to imagine ye old Scotland at the time of William Wallace. Gas powered mowers are centuries from invention. The trusty scythe was the implement of choice. A grizzled old farmer works his share crop on the edge of the Scottish coast on a piece of link land. So named because it linked the inland with the beach, later deemed so bad for farming or grazing, people built golf courses on it instead. Hence St Andrews and links golf. Hoping to avoid eviction by the lord or knight of the manor, the farmer swings to and fro his scythe, desperate for a decent crop yield. Gnarly hands struggle to hold the scythe in the freezing summer winds and ocean mist. Yes summer. He can’t stop. He’s working to pay the man. A two handed device that was gangly but lethal that scythe. Not lethal to the grass but to the person wielding it. Mind you this was a lawn implement.
That almost compares to the way 4 year old kids swing the bat at a ball perched on a tee. The ball is in no danger. Ever. It is the tee for which we weep.
You can almost feel the pain of the Tee as the batters rain blows down upon it, while the ball sits safely in the holder or gently falls to the ground and rolls a few feet away. Now if the ball does leave the tee another natural phenomenon is cast into motion. In Frank’s Place Latin – Jugis de Gnati or running of the child, occurs naturally this time of year across the United States. Eight or nine undersized kids wearing oversized t-shirts, ball caps, and mitts, or gloves, reflexively run at the ball as it leaves it’s protective habitat atop the tee. Every once in a while a rare sighting occurs when the child who just bludgeoned the tee causing the ball to be set in motion also chases it instead of running to first.
Jugis de Gnati also requires that each child throw him or herself onto the child who actually trapped the ball under their person. This Canem Cumulus, or dog pile, takes place regardless of time elapsed from the ball being trapped by the original child and the final child reaching said dog pile. In other words, if a kid has to run from the outfield to get a ball hit to the pitcher, so be it. That child will run the entire distance offering him or herself to the top of Canem Cumulus upon completion of the journey.
The one redeeming quality of Tee-ball: it’s apparently ok to laugh at the kids without facing the wrath of the sports parent or Athletica Parenti. In fact the horror stories often associated with the overbearing parents at their kid’s sporting endeavors seem non-existent at this level. Here’s hoping it stays that way. Fingers crossed.
The true heroes of this little social experiment called Tee-ball are the coaches. God bless them crazy bastards. What drives these men and women to sign up for this? What do they get out of it? I’m not seeing it. But again, God bless em. Someone has to do it I guess.
I learned from last Fall’s soccer experiment, which resembled a giant 6 kid amoeba roaming the field attempting to assimilate the ball, to keep my expectations low. Just try to enjoy Frank enjoying himself. He enjoyed soccer. Never kicked the ball through 8 games. Not once. And he loved it. Running with his friends was all he wanted. He had no desire to enter the scrum to get the ball. He was happy so I learned to be happy about and with him.
What a difference a season makes.
The first time Frank took the field I was very nervous, completely unsure of what he would do. But true to his herd, as the first ball hit the dirt rolling non-aggresively toward the mound, Frank, along with 8 of his teammates, stampeded toward the ball. The pitcher, or kid standing on the mound, was first to the ball. Poor kid. Nine kids later, to include the batter, the first dog pile of the season was complete thus signaling the boys of summer are back.
I was stunned that Frank was so willing to dog pile. But what happened next was earth shattering for two reasons:
1. the ball was struck with some pace and was on a inside-the-infield home run trajectory.
2. Frank dove to his left, glove in proper position, snagging the ball and triggering a roar from the crowd.
We had played catch in the back yard, but I was never allowed to throw the ball in the air. Frank always made me throw him ground balls. I naturally assumed he was afraid of the ball. Turns out the kid knew what he was doing.
Color me surprised. I did notice he enjoyed the people cheering for him a bit more then I would have liked. He’s starting to like this tee ball thing way too much.
I just hope it doesn’t mess up his golf swing.