(This is part of the Slice of Life project at Two Writing Teachers)
As I was thinking about how to write about the topic of youth baseball for my slice, it occurred to me that this is the third year in a row that I have reflected on my sons entering into the Little League season. The time falls perfectly in sync with Slice of Life and baseball will soon start to consume our days and nights.
Two years ago, I wrote about my trepidation of my oldest son, at age 1o, moving up into the older league with 12 year olds, even though he was and is pretty talented. Last year, I wrote about coming on as an assistant coach with my middle son’s team and sitting at the draft night table, sorting through names.
So, last night, after agreeing to be an assistant coach (and recruiting another assistant coach to help) for the team where both of my sons will play (probably the only time they will be on a team together in any sport, given the spread of years, and the middle son — like his brother two years ago — is moving up at a young age), I once again found myself at the Little League Draft Table with notes and names and wild guesses about kids’ abilities and personalities. The idea of a Draft for Little League is odd, but I have become convinced that it may be as fair as a system as any to provide fairly equal teams of talent.
I think we pulled together a pretty strong team over the 90 minutes of choosing and talking, and we seem to have a collection of kids who have good personalities. But of course, you never know. Our team had the first pick of the draft (our team was dead last last year) and we chose a kid that we don’t even know, but he seems like a great ballplayer.
We don’t know him because our small city is divided by baseball — and I am not talking about Red Sox and Yankees (no, that would be my home). Before my time in the league with my sons, a group of parents who were disgruntled with Little League branched off and started a rival Cal Ripken League. That means that the pool of talent is now shallow and small for both leagues, which seems unfortunate. Our top pick played in Cal Ripken, but shifted back to Little League this year because he and his family were unhappy with the experience in the other league.
Our head coach is the coach of the high school varsity team, which means he knows his stuff and we have easy access to the high school ballfield and pitching machines and more, so my sons are excited about that. And of course, baseball in april (an aside: the name of a collection of short stories by Gary Soto) is a time of possibilities and y0uthful dreams of home runs, shut-out pitching and spectacular fielding.
Everyone has the potential to have a good season right now (even the coaches).
Peace (on the field),