The T-Ball League

The boy's first t-ball season ended a couple weeks ago. Along with another dad, I "coached" his team. I've decided that a term other than "coach" should be used for adults who volunteer to manage sports teams comprised of 6-year old boys. I think "herder" or "huddler" or "goader" would be more appropriate. Anyway, our team was the Red Sox, and we had official-looking caps just like the major leaguers. When I played t-ball as a kid, we weren't lucky enough to have pro team names and caps. While we did have teams named Red Sox and White Sox, the league also was home to Blue Sox, Purple Sox, etc. My team was, no joke, the Maroon Sox. Maroon! The ironic thing is that our Red Sox t-shirts this season were, you guessed it, maroon.

We started practicing back in May. Due to the typically-unpredictable Minnesota springtime weather (cold and rainy days mixed in with hot and sweaty ones), we had to cancel a couple of practices. Turns out that was probably a good thing. While the other coach and I attempted to provide instruction and impart our knowledge of the game to the boys, the majority of the time we were lucky to simply hold their interest. For those of you who don't know or have forgotten how a pack of 6-year old boys behaves, their attention spans are about as long as the duration of a sneeze.  In my estimation, over the last 2 1/2 months I've said "Pay attention, Kid X.", "Quit playing in the dirt, Kid X!", "Wake up, Kid X!", and "Hey, Kid X!" about a million times.  Often times the boy was Kid X, and I'd holler at him from across the field as he seemingly could never get the infield surface sufficiently groomed to his liking.

As could be expected, the skill levels of the kids was all over the board. Most could hit the ball off the tee on day one, although I think one boy held on to the wrong end of the bat at first. A couple could throw pretty well. Not surprisingly, catching the ball was the major hurdle that plagued us throughout the season. I'm shocked that we made it through the entire schedule without anybody sustaining a black eye or bloody nose as a result of using their face to catch the ball instead of their glove.  Side note: I'm pretty sure that when I was 6 and played shortstop I could dive to catch a line drive, hop up quickly, and throw a seed to first base to double off the base runner (and the first baseman could catch too).  On second thought, I could just be remembering playing games of Intellivision baseball at a buddy's house when we were in middle school.

Despite any apprehensions we coaches had during the first practice, everything went quite smoothly and the season was over before we knew it.  We played 12 games or so, missing one week in the middle while on vacation.  At least for me, it really was a lot of fun, and I think the boys enjoyed the experience too.  They all improved in pretty much every aspect of the game, although I think it will be a couple seasons before they fully get the catching part down.  There were also many smiles, chuckles, and genuine laugh-out-loud moments.  Here's an assortment of things said to or overheard by me during the season:

When playing catch during practice - "Take it easy on me."

After being told by a player that he's thirsty and suggesting he take a drink from a teammate's water bottle (he forgot his own) - "Eeewwwww - germs!"

An opposing first baseman to our player standing on first base upon seeing who was next at bat - "Hey! Did you know that Hayden is on your team? That's so cool!"

"How much longer is the game?"

"How many more innings?"

"When do we get treats?"

"Who brought the treats?"

"Can I have another treat?"

"Let's dog pile on Coach Eric!"

Finally, when I said that it was the last game of the season - "Yay!!!"

Of course all the kids received trophies on the last night of play, despite not winning any games (nobody ever won as every player batted every inning and no scores were kept).  Not sure how I feel about that.  Yeah, they were really excited to get them, and the boy has been eagerly waiting to get his first trophy to begin his attempt to accumulate more than I did when I was a kid (36, count 'em Beyotches!).  I agree with those who say giving everybody trophies to make them all feel like winners is wrong, and I think it's a major contributor to the ongoing sissification of America.  Who wants to display a trophy that just says "Participant" on it anyway??  I guess it's one thing if you participated in an All-Star game or something, but in my opinion just showing up does not a trophy warrant (an ice cream cone or maybe an 8 1/2 by 11 certificate on the other hand...).  I say you should actually have to win something (or at least pay for it yourself) to get a trophy.  Whatever - the boy can put his trophy on the shelf, but as far as I'm concerned it doesn't count in his campaign to surpass my "accomplishments" as a youth.

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I just figured out what I want to do for my next job.  For years I thought I'd write childrens' books or go back to school to become a chef or even an accountant.  Forget those ideas - I want to be a cicerone.  So what is a cicerone?  You're probably familiar with sommeliers, or wine experts.  Well, a cicerone is the beer version of a sommelier.  According to this website, there is actually a certification program one can study to become a Certified Cicerone or even a Master Cicerone.  I'm not sure what all is involved other than drinking (and probably serving) a lot of beer, and I don't know about potential job advantages for a Master Cicerone over a typical, everyday bartender, but it's worth looking into!

Cin Cin!

3 comments:

Liwanag said...

"sissification of America". lol.

Ted said...

OK, where do I start. First, thanks for finishing the season and making another post. I was wondering if you had abondoned this blog...or maybe that my RSS feed was broken.

Second, Great topic. My boy finished his first year as a player on a similar team, and he loved his trophy and called all of his grandparents to tell them. Outside of that enthusiasm, I'm with you about no trophies for not winning anything.

Two quick stories about my t-ball observations as a parent and a helping hand during practices and games. One, I had to get a kid to stop making dirt angels in the in-field. Two, the coach raced the kids around the bases at the end of practice and one practice ripped his hamstring (like nothing I've ever seen). It was all black and blue the next week. He was quite embarrassed. I think dog-piling was a better call for you.

Keep the blog going.

Eric said...

Yeah Ted, fortunately we made it through the season unscathed. Similar to my decision several years ago to no longer slide while playing in men's softball leagues due to the potential for injury, at t-ball practice I refuse to run at a clip that could cause me to tear, sprain, or break anything.

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