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Baseball Short: How Do You Remember Tee-Ball? (Friday, April 29, 2011)

July 22, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

Baseball Short: How Do You Remember Tee-Ball?

Yesterday, my son Sid and I had two outings playing catch.  The first time he was waiting for his guitar lesson.  The second was at our favorite park, Aldine Park.Today, his throws, at his stage of development, are starting to pop in my glove like the big kids.  As we threw, some smaller kids where getting what might be their first instruction in tee-ball.  Looking at them, he asked me if it brought back fond memories.  I told him no.  My fondest memories, these days, are of the most recent throws and catches he makes. I was not sure if he was talking about his tee-ball days.  I think he was talking about mine.  It was more than 40 years ago.  I remember a few vivid images.  Nostalgia.  True fun.I remember hitting a lot of triples–never daring to make the turn to home plate for a home run, even though it was unlikely that our opponents would make the throw and catch and tag to get me out.  Heads-up baserunning is a good skill, totally lost on tee-ball.I remember the day dad took off from work to come see me play.

I was eager to show him what I could do.  I remember the disappointments that came with each at bat.  A double each time.  I was trying so hard.  Too hard.

 

I was competing against myself.  The concept of competitiveness was as lost as the skill of mindful base running–somewhere in the hapless play of primary schoolers.  That day, I know I could and had done better.  And dad did not see.  But he knew.

 

I do not think anyone kept score.  We all won, running on and off the field in our 7-Up shirts, the back of which I had inked with my last name, just like some of the professional players.  Likely, I had a Twins hat slightly askew on my head and the black glove given to me by my Uncle Alvin–the same glove that my son and I, along with some friends and family, took with us to a park near grandma and grandpa’s to play catch and hot box.

 

The year after tee-ball, I would take the same glove to little league where I would play first base most of the time.  I was assigned first base because I was one of the few kids who could catch with confidence–my own confidence and that of the coach and team mates.

 

Maybe I am a little nostalgic.  Or maybe that’s just baseball.

 

I think of those summer days.  I think of my son, who has a different relationship with baseball that is marked by things like the day, as an eight-year-old, when a pop up dropped intentionally, so it seemed, untouched in the infield. He turned to the “umpire” asking, with dismay, “What about the infield fly rule?”  Of course I hoped he would catch the ball.  Instead, I had a very good laugh–a laugh that reverberates when I see Major Leaguers who forget the concept.

 

I am waiting for Sid to give me the complete definition of a balk, and a lot of other things that have to do with baseball and things that have to do with life, love and the pieces of each of those that are truly important.

 

How good of a learner am I?

 

How much do I long for the tee-ball days?  Maybe you should ask me the next time Sid’s Second baseman’s arm zings a shot into my waiting glove.

 

Maybe Sid is nostalgic, the summer before he leaves grade school to jump fully into the ranks of the junior highers with whom he is already taking math class.  He and I know that being a kid is hard.  Some days, nostalgia makes us forget.  Or we can escape the memories or the present day, lost inside a game of catch.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom Flock-Johnson permalink
    July 29, 2011 2:55 am

    Baseball memories never fail to bring back the excitement that the season’s start evoked. We had such long dreary winters and school sports sucked. Summer vacation was just the setting for the season. I have no memory of t-ball, actually very few memories before I was 10 or so. But I have a whole bag full of wonderful baseball memories. That’s one of the reasons I am still trying to play, to recapture that feeling. If only my legs and arm could remember as well as my head. Thanks, Clarence.
    April 29, 2011 11:04 AM

  2. July 29, 2011 2:57 am

    Thanks, Tom. And thanks for being braver than most of us, attempting to show a few Julio Franco and Jamie Moyer flashes of brilliance. At my ripe, old age, I am still tempted to hit the field, but I also realize that for baseball, we are well past what is considered old-timer status. We have a few years for softball, but who’s counting?
    April 30, 2011 4:18 PM

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