It might have been a Hallmark Channel’s special–everyone was completely bathed in sunset gold; there was even corn behind the outfield. But hidden in this pastoral setting lies the fine print for parents–the eleventh commandment of my nephew’s little league game.
- “If a new inning doth start ere 8:30 PM, the game must continue until both sides have batted completely.”
Coach-pitch is that bastard child, somewhere between tee-ball and concussion–when dads (mainly) publicly humiliate themselves by missing the plate repeatedly–at least that was the way it was way back when my kids played.
Now, after too many trips to the chiropractor or too many threatened lawsuits, some clever dude invented a gadget that throws a perfect pitch each time.
But the with the added time it takes to catch the ball from a young infielder, transfer it from your glove, load it in the slot, step on the pedal, release your arm in a fake pitch and step on the lever the slow-moving game becomes even slower–something I’d never thought possible.
There’s nothing more romantic than unoccupied playground equipment. Even if it still may contain lead-paint.
It harkens back the thrill and danger of a torqued-up merry-go-round powered by three candy-hopped-up 12 year olds about to launch your four year-old into the emergency room.
And past that tilt-a-hurl is my own little outdoor waiting-room where I’d spent long hours wishing that someone had invented a robot for pushing a kid in a swing.
The great watershed moments of a parent’s life has to be…
- Baby’s first steps
- Baby’s first toilet-flush
- Baby’s first driving-himself-anywhere
- Baby finally learns how to pump his darn legs on the swing
This is when my wife usually mentions, “And people actually think you’re a nice guy.”
I suppose if there was an Ebenezer Scrooge of Sandlot Award, I’d probably win it. To cement my complete hypocrisy, I’ll stand around an aisle at Home Depot for the same length of time as three innings of the above.
But I cannot tell you how happy this selfish father was when his two kids showed no interest at all in the sport that has no mercy at all on the poor parents.
Unless three kids get hit by lightning, the show must apparently go on for soccer parents. And looking at their thrilled expression above, it’s a safe bet that they’re not saying, “Won’t we miss this and look back at this soggy field fondly after the kids are in college?”
But they will and we do.
They guy leaning against the fence could very well be predicting his nostalgia of this moment–or perhaps he’s just happy that he’s not trying to perform the Karate-Kid-like movement required on the pitcher’s mound.
But despite his jaundiced godfather, Andrew enjoys the helmet, the glove, and the nifty bat-bag that hangs on the chain-link. And with aid of the fielding skills of the other seven years old, he’s very likely to bat six or seven times in a hard fought contest ending in the tie of 132-132.
It’s a great rite-of-passage for parent and child and I suspect that most dads standing in the field on sore legs or watching from the bleachers on sore behinds figure these are important hours well-spent. For not all of us will have the opportunity, like the Field of Dreams Ray Kinsella, to recreate that game of catch later.
So gather ye corn-ears while ye may. And remember at the end of the three hour, three-inning lies a pot of gold…