Walking in the park one spring a few years ago, my daughter – she must have been four or five – said “Mom! It smells like baseball!”
She was inhaling the intoxicating scent of newly mowed grass – and to us that means baseball.
Because there are 10 years between my oldest child and my youngest, the little ones spent many hours at events for their big brother. Little League is no exception.
My 16-year-old son, Granger, played from T-ball to Juniors in the Tri-Cities Little League in Cupertino. My youngest, Walter, was born on Opening Day 2001 – the only opening ceremony I ever missed during his career. Kayla, who is eight, spent many Saturdays with me on the bleachers.
Now it’s Walter’s turn to play, and his team had Opening Day 2007 last Saturday. We now live in the Cupertino American Little League boundaries, and will play our first game next weekend.
Did I mention I’m the team manager? Uh, yeah. I volunteered into that and think that with the help of a newly purchased e-book (“How to Coach Tee Ball”), I may make it through the season. (I also have the help of the moms and dads of my team, so it’s possible to turn over batting practice to someone who actually has a clue about how to bat.)
To date, my best coaching suggestions have been from the bleachers to Granger. “Hit it son! Hit it! Hit it HARD!” or “Run! Run! Hurry!” or “Catch it! Catch it! Ohhhhhhhhhh yes! You caught it!”
I read the book and talked to some other people and my goals now are quite modest: Help everyone know which direction to run the bases (counter clockwise, right?) and don't be hit in the head with a bat while setting the ball on the T. As for the kids, the dad to one of my players gave me this sage advice: 1) Keep it fun and everything else will be fine; 2) It's all about the snack. Kids may not remember if they hit, ran, or caught the ball, but they're all eager to recall the snack from week to week. (Thank heaven for a Team Mom, who has already provided the schedule!)
I walked to the field on Opening Day and had my own olfactory experience … Right behind the snack shack, a couple of dads were grilling hot dogs and hamburgers. Now THAT smells like baseball.