Since Independence Day is a few days from now, I thought I would post this little non-fiction piece about our national pastime that I originally wrote in spring 2012.
I attended my son’s first T-ball game this past weekend. I wanted to look over the email attachment of rules that the coach had sent me so I would know what was going on. How much different could it be than regular baseball?
The rulebook turned out to be 41 pages.
Forget This. I’ll learn as I go.
Since I teach some night classes, I’m not able to attend practices, so this was my first time to see the coaches and my 5-year-old son’s teammates. Too anxious to sit, I paced back and forth, waiting for the game to start.
Being from the Midwest, I decided to wear my St. Louis Cardinals cap. I unknowingly drew attention to myself since it was Rangers country and most parents and several coaches sported the red and blue apparel with the cool-looking “T’ on it.
It wouldn’t be the only time I would draw attention to myself.
Looking around at the other parents, it seemed I was the only male at the game who wasn’t:
1) a Harley rider;
2) a (wanna-be) gangbanger; or
3) a macho bodybuilder.
“I don’t think I fit in here. Maybe I should have stayed at home and graded essays,” I whispered to my wife.
“You stay here. Support your son!” my petite wife replied, not bothering to look at me.
Lord, I can’t do this. Everyone is staring at me. They all hate me. I couldn’t get the paranoid thoughts out of my head. Satan was attacking me with everything he had.
When the game started, our team took the field. My son started at third base (each inning the kids switch to a different position), and I had to tell him not to stand on the actual base. No big deal; it was their first game after all.
The first batter hit a bouncer (off the tee) to the pitcher. The pitcher stopped the ball with his foot and picked it up, but then he just stood there.
“Throw. The ball. To first,” I growled to myself through clenched teeth.
“Good job, good job!” said the Harley biker dude, one of the assistant coaches.
Good job?! He didn’t even attempt to make the play at first! I thought.
Since all the balls usually don’t make it past the pitcher (it is T-ball after all), I was surprised when a batter on the other team hit one to the second baseman. The fielder scooped it up and proceeded to throw the runner out.
Awesome! This is more like it.
The second baseman did indeed throw the ball, but he threw it to third base for some unknown reason. There wasn’t even a runner on that side of the diamond.
“Come on!” I growled again. A few people turned around.
My wife elbowed me. “They’re only 5 years old! Settle down.”
This time the dude with the drooping shorts and the Jesus is my Homeboy T-shirt clapped and shouted, “It’s OK! Nice try!”
Why the is everyone being so darn nice? These kids need training!
A few innings later (T-ball only has 4 innings), my son hit a grounder that made it all the way into center field. I relaxed, a smile plastered across my face.
I was totally unprepared for what happened next.
The next batter got a base hit, meaning my son had to advance to second base. He just stood there, though, picking his ear.
I jumped out of my folding chair like it was in flames. “RUN!! MICHAEL, RUN!!”
I’m not sure who else was urging my son to run to second; my voice drowned out all the others, so I didn’t know. All I remember was that I unknowingly deputized myself as a coach.
“MICHAEL, RUN!! *@#%*&$!!”
The game came to a standstill as everyone turned to me. It was as if a pedophile had just walked onto the field buck naked. Biker couples clad in U.S. flag bandanas and trailer people with mullets and faded Lynyrd Skynyrd shirts covered their kids’ ears. Athletic muscleheads who could have thrown me like a javelin glared with contempt.
If T-ball had an umpire, I would have probably been banished from the sports complex for the rest of my life.
I learned a lot about being judgmental that day. I, the college instructor/ Christian in the polo shirt, cargo shorts, and Birkenstocks, turned out to be the true menace to society.
Luckily next weekend is picture day for the team, so I’ll just lie low and send my wife. By the time the next game rolls around, hopefully everyone will have forgotten what happened.
Yeah, right. And I’ll be pitching for the Yankees next season, too.