I wasn't prepared to enjoy watching 4-year-olds play T-ball. I suspected the games would be tedious, but now I miss the unpredictable fast action.
Where else can you see unassisted triple plays in back-to-back innings, and players who exhibit the fine-tuned teamwork of a litter of puppies? What other athletes play not only for love of the game but also for the snack at the end? When I missed a game, my son beamed as he told me he'd gotten two hits. He had even more exciting news.
"Dad!" he said, licking his lips, "We each got our own package of Oreos!" If pro-baseball owners were smart, they'd sign T-ball players to lifetime contracts. The youngsters would sign on the dotted line for peanuts especially if they were chocolate-covered.
Some people say tee ball is like watching Abbott and Costello's famous "Who's on first?" comedy routine. I disagree. Four-year-olds don't care "Who's on first," because they're too busy wondering "Where is first?"
My son's coach began with the basics. "You can't get someone out by throwing the ball at them. You can't get someone out by throwing dirt at them." And, most important, "After you hit the ball, run to first base."
"Where's first?" asked Johnny, who looks remarkably like Bud Abbott.
"First is easy to remember," the coach said, "it's always to your right."
"Which is my right? I forget."
"Your right hand is the one you throw the ball with, not the one you wear your glove on."
"But sometimes I wear my glove on the wrong hand," Johnny sighed.
"See Billy?" the coach said. "He's playing first. After you hit the ball, run to where Billy is."
Johnny hit the ball and ran to Billy. Unfortunately, Billy was at that moment running toward the Porta-John with Johnny right behind him.
T-ball players do get distracted. During one game, a player pointed toward center field as he took the plate. At first it appeared he was imitating Babe Ruth, showing where he would hit a home run. Then I heard the bells on an ice-cream truck. The entire team turned and walked toward the truck, as if in a trance. (Well, the entire team except the first baseman, who was trying to catch a butterfly, and the right fielder, who was practicing his somersaults.)
Now these boys of summer have put away their gloves and bats. I'll miss the action. I'm just glad my son signed up for peewee soccer.