In Our Town, Rookie Ball is T-ball. It the entrance for kids into the world of baseball. Neither of our older boys played T-ball. Sweet Pea was too whack-a-doodle to play when he was 5, and when Pickles was 5, it simply didn’t occur to us. Probably because Sweet Pea was so whack-a-doodle and Pumpkin Pie was a newborn. (Ain’t it a bitch being the middle kid).
5 year-old Pumpkin Pie, however, wanted to play. So he’s playing. Lately I have had a LOT of time watching his team play and I learned a few things along the way that I thought I would share with you.
The first thing I need to talk about is technique. Of course it is never too early to start teaching proper baseball technique. At this point in the season, the kids get several pitches from the coach. If none of those make contact, they pull out the tee. I mean really, we don’t want to be here all night. So about a third of the kids still wind up using the tee. Pumpkin Pie is one of them. I am going to do my best to relate to you the experience of watching Pumpkin Pie’s batting technique. I am sure I will fall short, but I’m gonna give it my all. At the last game when it was his turn, Pumpkin Pie stepped up to the plate and stood in the previously agreed upon batting stance. The coach pitched the ball to him and Pumpkin Pie responded in the following way: he squeezed his eyes shut, turned his body away, held the bat with one hand stretched out as far in front of him as possible and waved the bat around using only his wrist as if he were protecting himself from a yucky bug or a very scary ghost. A scary baseball ghost, perhaps.
Second pitch, same thing. But if at all possible, he switched from the batting stance to the bug/scary-baseball-ghost-protection-stance even faster this time. By the third pitch, I was laughing so hard I am not even sure what happened. I had to concentrate on my own bladder control. On the fourth pitch they brought out the tee. Pumpkin Pie squared up to the tee and in one surprisingly swift motion swung the bat about half way through, dropped it, and took off beyond the foul line roughly in the direction of first base. The ball, of course, remained safely on the tee unmarred by contact with a bat. This happened a couple of times until he finally hit a little piece of the ball and sent it bouncing into the fence behind the foul line. At that point, they just let him run. Good call, Coach.
It is also never too early to teach strategy. Last night one of the more athletic kids on Pumpkin Pie’s team made an actual play. I think this little guy is 6 and seems to have better control over his body than some of his team-mates. After the ball was hit, Athletic Guy ran into the outfield, (I know, I can’t believe one of those knuckleheads hit it into the outfield, either) picked it up, and threw it to third base. This would have been a genius play except for the single fact that Athletic Guy WAS the third baseman. I know, it was really adorable.
And now for some random observations:
It is necessary to do an “equipment check” (check, adjust, smack, knock on, or otherwise maintain the cup that protects a boy’s junk) approximately every 7 minutes.
Second base is an excellent place to inspect the contents of your nose. And check your equipment.
If your teammate starts a hat fight in the dugout, they will stop if you hit them with your helmet.
If you are missing your glove when you are in the outfield, it won’t really hinder your playing all that much.
A baseball glove makes excellent headwear.
The outfield is an ideal location to gyrate your hips. After an equipment check, of course.
An fun way to entertain yourself in the infield is to take your teammate’s cap, throw it in the sand, stomp on it, then give it back.
Another fun entertainment option is to take off your own hat, fill it with sand, and then put it back on your head. After an equipment check, of course.