When I was younger…much, my dad used to play softball. He would play in a summer league and I have some wonderful memories…not so much about the games, but the smell of the parks, running around the bleachers, and the best part…after the games, on those beautiful summer nights, we would go to the root beer stand for a frosty mug of root beer, or go the watermelon stand for cool slices of watermelon. I always looked forward to those nights.
Soooooo…you would think when my son wanted to play tee-ball I would have been excited…not so. I dreaded those t-ball years….I figured we would put in our obligatory year or two of t-ball and little league and then move on to the next thing that captured my little guy’s attention. But…….when I saw those precious little 5 year olds in their precious little uniforms with their precious little tee-ball bats, I was hooked…but not nearly as hooked as my little tee-ball player.
Now, 7 years later I always look forward to the beginning of little league baseball season…I still love the smell of the park, but I don’t run around on the bleachers as much…and I pay a lot more attention to the games since my little humans are playing…always hoping they get a good hit, and are not the last batter and potentially the last out in a very close championship game, holding my breath when a pop-up is hit their way in the outfield, and praying they jump out of the way in time if a line drive goes straight down the middle when they are pitching. But you know the real reason I love little league baseball…it doesn’t change. You can go to practically any little league park today, and it’s like stepping into a Norman Rockwell picture…it’s nostalgic. The uniforms the players wear are the same, the banners affixed to the outfield fences are still there cheering on the players or promoting a local restaurant, and you can get hot dogs, peanuts and bubble gum in the concession booth. One local field actually has a short order cook that makes some of the best hamburgers in town. And the kids that play…so many of them dream about becoming the next A-Rod, Jeter, Pujols… and still, Ruth, Berra, Mantle, Jackson. These dreams that these players of today have are no different from the dreams the little league players of the 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s had. These dreams are pure, and in the world today, that’s refreshing.
So now on game day, I once again look forward to the game. I look forward to munching on some bubble gum, watching my guys play ball, chatting with the other ball moms…but most of all, I look forward to sneaking back to a simpler place, if only for a little while.
And with that I say, “Play Ball!!!”