By Sports Historian Rene Torres
Since my grandson (Jayden Thomas Salazar) has joined the ranks of tee-ballers at West Brownsville Little League—my involvement in the game is no longer at a distance. I find myself edging closer toward the white lines in hopes of making a difference in his pursuit of America’s game.
The challenge though, is in transforming the kids of today, who were born into a grass-concrete society, and introducing them into a world of diamond dust. Once they walk through the gate and on to the playing field they discover that the earth is alsomade up of dirt.
They left a technological world consumed with gadgets that kept them indoors— to join a team of unknowns surrounded by coaches, umpires and the most passionate fans in baseball—tee ball moms.
While the coaches try their best to teach them the skills of thegame—it is inevitable that boys will be boys. If the game becomes too long and boring, the dirt that adorns the diamondentices some kids to play a different kind of game. Like my grandson told me one day, “Grandpa, this is taking too long.”
You have to understand, that this is perhaps the first time he/shehas seen and/or had the opportunity to play with this earthly matter called dirt. As the game progresses—some kids become more creative.
Kicking dirt around and tossing it up in the air, is what amateurs do. I was an eyewitness to a kid who was building a castle— he,will probably have a good future as an architect. Kids are constantly reminded to focus on the game—but sometimes are confused with the distracting noises that surround the game.
A climate of confusion… The kid on the field becomes the center of attention when the ball is hit to him--and what comes next is a barrage of confusing instructions on what to do with the ball. As a group of coaches, and parents, who amplify the volume, are yelling commands all at the same time which becomes a little overbearing.
The loud chatter coming from all directions sometimes causes the main character to freeze and do nothing. On the other side, the hitter, in this puzzling atmosphere, might run to the wrong cushion in an attempt to steal a base.
Another interesting phenomena of tee ballers is that by the middle of the game you see a group of kids marching out of the dugout on a fast track to the restroom. A “nature call” during the game is unavoidable.
Tee ballers will mature with every pitch and one day he/she will become a professional in some field and regardless where their careers takes them—they would have learned everything they know in kindergarten and/or maybe, from the lessons of tee ball.
As a reminder to all that are involved in Base Ball, the game is controlled by outs. “Three strikes and you’re out, make no outs and time is endless, and if you are out of your seat—you’ll miss out.”
Lastly, to the parents, as your tee-ball sons and/or daughters are in the beginning stages of chasing their dreams--they have to be reminded that it is not the trophy that brings the ultimate joy, but rather the work that it takes to win the prize.
See you at the park!