This season may be another tough one for Baltimore Orioles fans, but my cure for you is to attend some T-ball games.
T-ball with 3-6 year olds is entertaining and a third of the time of an MLB game. My son Danny is in his first year of organized T-ball and I’m one of three coaches. I am primarily the dugout coach and ready the kids for the field as well as organize them for their at-bats. I’ve coached middle schoolers before, but this experience has been entirely different. I feel like I’m coaching the coaches and the kids, but really, we’re all just having a really enjoyable time.
In our first game, I fielded more questions and non-T-ball related statements than the kids fielded hit balls.
“Coach, Coach, when do I get to wear the armor?” This is kid speak for, “When do I get to play catcher?”
“Coach, I’m 6 and I have a loose tooth.” This sentence led to a discussion on age, lost teeth, silver teeth and cavities. It abruptly ended when the kids had to take the field again.
“Coach, where’s my hat?” All of the players and coaches have the same hat, but few had the smarts to make an identifying mark, such as a name, on each hat. Let’s just say we were a little late getting the kids on the field that first inning.
About midway through the season, we all got the hang of the game, but that didn’t mean we played the game the way it’s meant to be played. One of my favorite moments occurred at the start of our fifth of eight games. We took the field and the ump yelled, “Play ball!” Danny was playing shortstop and as the batter approached the plate, Danny yelled, “This Mamá, This Mama.” I looked at him from the dugout, and when his eyes caught mine, he smiled, blew me kisses and said, “I love you! I love you, This Mamá.”
I returned the gesture and words as a ball rolled past him. He didn’t bother running after it. Instead, he looked at his older teammates who then chased down the hit ball. Later that inning, my wife arrived at the game and received the same love from Danny. The parents on our side loved it and there were nothing but smiles from and for my boy.
Later that game our team was at bat and Danny moseyed up to the batter’s box. “Up to bat is Danny Flores,” the announcer routinely announced from the press box. Upon hearing his name, Danny walked onto the infield, looked up at the press box and waved to the announcer. The announcer stood tall and waved back at Danny. This caused a slight delay of game and an exchange of pleasantries, which the umpire had to halt so the game could go on. Again, the crowd of parents smiled and chuckled as my sweet boy acted in kindness rather than playing ball.
Our boys have been raised to be kind and that shows on the T-ball field. Their kindness on the field leads to smiles and cheers rather than outs and runs. At the end of the game, they’re still winners though because they run straight to the concession stand and into the arms of loving adults. Maybe the O’s can still be winners, too. Maybe they can produce some smiles by blowing a few kisses to the crowd or by waving to Gary Thorne in the press box. Wouldn’t that be something?