While much of the country continues to defrost from Snowpocolpsye the Sequel, someone went ahead and turned on the summer here in Northern California. The mercury reached 87 (or rather the app on my iPhone told me that was how hot it was) as the boys suited up for another run around the diamond.
I threw on a ball cap of my own (A’s since I’m in NorCal) to prevent a repeat of last week’s sunburn. We arrived at the field, where I quickly realized our opponents, Team 2, translated to the Oakland Athletics. Given Team 1 was last week’s match in a World Series rematch of SF Giants vs. KC Royals, I should have figured this out.
At the very least I would have worn my LA Dodger hat as to match the team colors of the Royals blue. Perhaps I’ll do that next week – although with my luck, Team 3 will be the Dodgers. (They really should just name them on the schedule.)
As little ones in light blue shirts straggled across the broad swaths of elementary school fields, the green and gold took the field for warm-up.
I knew something was amiss the second the A’s coach directed his pint-sized players to “warm up.” Our coach was busy reminding the players not to hit each other with bats. (I helpfully yelled, “No high sticking!” at my own dynamic duo.)
In the midst of such wise small-person preservation advice, the sight of several Athletic team moms grommeting a team banner to the chain-link backstop, caught my eye. The Oakland logo glinted gold in the sun, illuminating the names of each player as inscribed on a bat.
As the Royals made dust angels in the dirt, Team 2 paired off on the infield and began playing catch. They tossed balls through the air into the glove awaiting its arrival 45 feet away. Oh my god – they can catch.
Their coach finished pacing off the throw-down bases and called his team in for a huddle.
They knew what a huddle was.
When they broke, it was a controlled and concise divide into actual positions on the field. Well, for the most part considering t-ball is played with 12 guys on the field plus a minimum of three coaches directing the circus.
They knew where the positions were.
One was even positioned against the bannered backdrop in full catchers gear. I didn’t even know they made it that small. (As it turns out, they don’t. The mini-catcher was a bit overwhelmed in his professional padding.)
One by one, the Royals took to the tee. Even Search played. A ball was grounded down the first base line, where the ball was fielded and tossed to first for an easy out.
I’ll repeat that. An out. In t-ball. On purpose.
The Royals’ parents were looking at one another, mouths agape. What sorcery was this?! Was this a rogue coach-pitch team masquerading as kinders?
But no sooner had we begun wondering about the impossible baseball being played in front of us, and the Royals lineup was done. Our boys took the field (by which I mean all the kids ran out and stood in a semi-circle), while the Athletics lined up to bat.
Here it became clear. The well-known t-ball adage, “Everybody can hit, but nobody can catch,” is a myth.
The 2015 t-ball Athletics took after their Major League brethren. Despite clearly developing the next generation of Gold Gloves, as a team, their batting average was decidedly low. Even off the tee.
Ultimately I think it brought our team closer together. Even Search walked away from the game with a badge of honor – a bruised cheek earned in one of the many pile-up battles for the ball. Perhaps the first fielding lesson at tomorrow’s practice should be, “This is baseball (kinda). Not tackle football.”
Everyone learns at their own pace. It’s an adventure for all. And ultimately – regardless of innate ability, at the end of the game…
ICE CREAM FOR EVERYBODY!