On Monday night I did the grandfather thing - I attended my youngest grandson's Tee-Ball game. It was the Orioles against the Blue Jays. Fortunately they have special rules. Each inning everybody on the team bats once. The inning ends when all have batted. It's good that it doesn't end when there are three outs because an inning might then last an hour or more. Actually four or five of the 30 who played actually caught a batted or thrown ball in the field. And it is good that they don't keep score or you might have scores like 230 -175. And it is good that they don't count strikes or there would have been dozens of strike-outs. And, fortunately, they only play four innings. A coach pitches since few if any of the players could throw a ball that far. And after four misses by the batter they place the ball on a Tee (thus the name of the game) and the player swings until he hits it fair off the tee. The tee itself probably was hit more often by wicked swings than the baseball. Now I never had a chance to play this "game". I'm not even sure if this game even existed when I was growing up and if it did I probably didn't know about it because we moved so often until I entered fifth grade. I learned to play baseball by playing pickup games with neighborhood kids. That was the way I spent most of my summer days. I guess nobody does that anymore. When I got to junior high I earned some money serving as an umpire in little league games. That wasn't always fun because it showed me how nasty some parents can be. I've often thought the spectators should not be allowed to attend little league games. Most of the time in junior and senior high I covered little league games for the local newspaper and that is where my newspaper career and my writing began. I did help coach the local Teener League team when my brother played and we actually won the championship. After I was married, for a couple of summers I helped my uncle coach a little league team in Sunbury - the mighty Mosquitos - an interesting name for a baseball team. My brother once asked me to help him with the Warwick Girl's Softball team which he coached. He wanted me to be the hitting coach, but I turned him down. But maybe that would have been fun. But Tee Ball is different and parents and grandparents come out to cheer on their sons and daughters - yes there were a few girls playing - as they begin their path to the major leagues. Or at least they dream about that happening. But they have a long way to go, a very long way. Most can't catch. Most are slow and have no baseball sense. Few can hit. Some can hardly even hit the ball off the tee. Most can't throw the ball to any base or even back to the pitcher. But there are two things that they can do. First, they can give and take "high five's" from coaches and players, no matter what they have just done. And secondly, they know how after the game to line up on the baselines and then pass the other team and say "good game". They did that well. It really wasn't too bad of an evening but a serious thought did pass through my mind. I would have liked to know how many of the boys in particular had fathers living with them. I would have liked to know how many of the boys had fathers who ever played pitch and catch with them or showed them how to hold a bat. It was very obvious that some had no idea about the basics. Some didn't know where to stand at home plate. Some didn't know how to hold or swing a bat properly. Many couldn't catch or couldn't hold their glove properly when they tried to catch. Unfortunately, so many kids have been abandoned by their dads and since nobody plays neighborhood pickup games anymore, young boys know very little about the fundamentals of what used to be the national pastime.. And that is sad. And I guess Tee-Ball is now the organized substitute to attempt to teach these fundamentals. Or maybe it is society's way to replace the many parents who don't care or are too busy to spend time with their kids. And if that is the case, that is even sadder.
4 days ago