There’s nothing that separates the men from the boys more than the first T-ball practice for 6 year olds.
Especially when we’re talking about my husband, Mr. Assistant Coach With Dreams of Grandeur.
Five minutes before the first practice: “Our boys will be solid - and I mean SOLID - on the fundamentals,” he bragged. “Catching, throwing, hitting. They’ll be all-stars in no time.”
Five minutes AFTER the first practice: “Our boys will be solid - and I mean SOLID - on the knowledge you can’t play in the dirt or wear your cap backward.”
Yes, my friend. Sometimes you have to start with the little things and work your way up. Or, in the case of little guys with short attention spans and questionable hand-eye coordination?
Aim low. Always, always aim low and you’ll never be disappointed.
T-ball is supposed to be a simple sport. But rarely are things what they seem.
Ball goes on tee. Batter swings. Six times, including at least two complete 360-degree turns ala Three Stooges-style before hitting the damn thing.
Ball flies a momentous two feet in the air before dropping with a thud to the dirt-covered infield, barely rolling past the foul line painted in front of home plate and putting the ball into play.
If you’re lucky, there’s one kid - ONE - on the other team who’s paying attention. And he’s like that Bugs Bunny cartoon where the rascally rabbit is running around so fast playing all the positions that he’s nothing but a blur with a baseball cap.
While everyone else is busy playing in the dirt, he’s the one who screams, “I GOT IT!” He races to it, picks it up, whirls around and throws like a rocket launcher to first base.
However, the first baseman is busy pulling up his pants because they’re too big to fit his tiny waist, and they keep falling to his ankles.
And soooo the ball sails high over his head.
The ball eventually rolls to a stop inside the first-base dugout. So Player #1 - the savior, the go-to guy, The MAN - runs after it, grabs it and throws it to second base.
Except - by now - the hitter is on third.
But all isn’t lost because the hitter decides he’s done running and starts walking to his own dugout, telling the coach he’s had enough of this nonsense and wants ice cream from the nearby concession stand.
Can we really blame him? Seriously. It’s a long way around those bases. Especially on the short legs of a 6 year old. I’d be asking for a Blue Bunny moment too.
All in all, our son’s team isn’t too shabby. And I’m not saying that because I’m wearing Mom Goggles where I see nothing but beautiful, well-behaved angels singing “Kumbaya” all day long.
Most of them can hit (two or three of them can even knock the snot outta the ball, sending it soaring over, well, second base), and several can throw, coming within a foot or two of their intended target. (Which is more than I can say about myself.)
But catching. Well, no one’s perfect. But that won’t keep my husband from trying.
“What the hell are you doing?” I said, walking into our family room to see my son wearing his T-ball mitt on one hand while my husband tossed golf ball-sized whiffle balls in his direction.
“Working on catching drills,” my husband quickly replied before tossing another one in our son’s direction.
“Uh, pardon me, but since when do you use golf balls in T-ball?”
He rolled his eyes in that Geesh, women kinda way and added, “It’s a way for him to learn how to position his glove, depending on where I throw the ball.”
And before I could open my mouth, he continued, “Annnnnd....a smaller ball is easier to catch at this point.”
Oh, OK. “Sounds great,” I said. Then I leaned over and whispered in his ear, “But don’t teach him too much, OK? I kinda like the Three Stooges-type of play. Keeps the parents entertained in the stands. Otherwise, we’ll have to go to the concession stand for ice cream.”