Sunday, April 24, 2011

Little League: Strike 10 - You're Safe!

I'M NOT a big sports fan. I don't like going to ballgames, not even for a really good hot dog.

But there's one game I wouldn't miss for all the hot dogs in the world -- my 6-year-old grandson's First Little League Baseball Game ever.


Last Saturday we watched Bradley play at Osage Park, along with his team, the Athletics. While two patient coaches helped the players warm up, we fans took pictures and dodged stray balls.

When it was time for the game to start, Bradley and his teammates took their outfield positions -- meaning they wandered around until the coach told them to stop and stay put.

At last count, there were more players on the field than I remembered being legal, but maybe the coaches figured the more, the merrier. Besides, no one wants to leave out a 6-year-old kid in his first ballgame.

The first batter from the opposing team donned his oversized helmet and took his place at home plate, bat raised as if preparing to kill something on the ground.

The coach gave him a few pointers on how to aim and swing, and then stood back at what he hoped was a safe distance. The crowd hushed, the pitcher threw the ball -- and the batter watched it fly right past him.

After a few more swings, the coach decided his player would have a better chance if the ball was propped on a stationery post. The kid swung again, hitting the post several times before actually making contact with the ball.

The coach ducked to avoid being decapitated by the flying bat, then yelled, "Run, run, run!" to the stunned kid, who eventually headed for first base.

The crowd went wild.

Before the inning was over, every player got a chance to hit the ball (usually off the post) and run the bases (where they were safe no matter what.)

Meanwhile, Bradley manned his position somewhere between the infield, outfield, pitcher's mound, first base, second base, and third base. I believe he was assigned Shortstop Number Two.

He spent most of the time figuring out how many things he could do with a mitt, such as: cover your face like Darth Vader; throw it up in the air and try to catch it (but miss); sit on it when you need a rest; use it as a puppet and talk to it; toss it to another team player who's also bored; or wear it as a hat.

His father did the same thing years ago, at his first Little League game, so apparently it's hereditary.

When Bradley got his chance at bat, he stepped up to the plate, eventually hit the ball, and ran/skipped to first base (at the encouragement of the coach).

Unfortunately, when it was time to run to second base, he was busy waving to his grandmother. No worries. The batter ran on past him, and with a little more encouragement from the coach, Brad finally followed the kid to home plate.

After three innings, Bradley's First Little League Baseball Game Ever was over, although I'm sure we'll get to watch the video on YouTube. Be sure to check it out. It's even more adorable than that "Laughing Baby."



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