Tuesday, May 20, 2008

7-0

Something happened this weekend at practice. Maybe it was the Zip-N-Hit we let the team use. Maybe it was the hundreds of fly balls we hit to them. Maybe it was just a flash in the pan and we'll never see it again. Tonight, though, everything came together.

It started early. We were home team and the first play of the game the other team hit a sharp ground ball past the third baseman. The left fielder scooped it up and threw it all the way to first for the out. Two more batters and the inning was over.

We got up to the plate and guys who've been bailing out every time the pitcher even considered throwing started hitting. And not just hitting. Line drives, sprayed all over the field. The mother of one player, a kid who's had some problems at the plate, sighed ruefully that her husband was working late and missed his son single his first two times at bat. Dad showed up and the boy hit a double, looking back at the bench with a smile you could have seen from the moon.

The games are only six innings long and during the bottom of the fifth, things well in hand, I found myself talking to one of the moms about Texas football and college softball and, of course, her child and how much he loves baseball. He hustles as much as anyone on the team but we've worried about his arm and hadn't let him pitch yet.

"Would he like to try pitching one of these days?" I asked her.

"He'd love it, whenever you and Coach P. think he's ready," she replied.

I walked over to Coach P. to tell him.

"Well then, let's put him in for the last inning," he said. He studied the line up and his brow furrowed. "Crap, we can't. He's scheduled to sit and everybody else has already been on the bench for an inning."

"What's going on?" asked the boy who'd thrown out the runner on the first play of the game.

"Nothing. Don't worry about it."

"Coach, I'll sit another inning if you want to let him throw," the boy offered.

"Really?" Coach P. asked.

"Sure."

So that's what happened. One boy, a kid who loves to play, sat out an extra inning so his teammate could pitch. And pitch he did, a perfect inning helped along by a couple nice plays in the infield.

When the first baseman caught the ball for the last out of the game, the pitcher grinned and the rest of the team shook his hand and he said, "That's the best I've ever pitched" and his mother beamed and clapped. And I told the father of the kid who volunteered to take the bench what happened and said "You should be proud of your son" and he beamed too and I watched and thought, We're getting somewhere.

6 comments:

fish said...

Where do you find kids that are decent human beings?

Adorable Girlfriend said...

Apparently on Snag's team, Fish. Kids are good people if we give them the baseline skills and encouragement to do the right thing.

Take it from one who didn't get it -- do it now. It's harder to pick up those skills as an adult.

The Lovely Bride said...

Where do you find kids that are decent human beings?

Anywhere but home.

Kathleen said...

I love it. You've totally turned me around on team sports for my future spawn.

billy pilgrim said...

Kath, team sports are great for kids. It's the parents you have to watch out for.

fish said...

Anywhere but home.

I now know how snag stays married.