Even though we were triple-booked last night, things went pretty smoothly.
* Mr. T took good care of his younger brother during Mr. B's game.
* Some other dads pitched in and helped guide the team through their first game.
* Coaches on both teams cheered for all the players, good sportsmanship abounded.
* When one little guy ran past the base and didn't return to tag up, his coach lifted him up and carried him over the distance of two paces so he wouldn't get tagged out. No one cared because it could be the only time this kid gets a base hit in his whole life. It pleased me that no one questioned the play. Besides, our first baseman is so ADD he wasn't anywhere near the base when our pitcher threw him the ball.
* The kids were all well-behaved and WON!
* Mr. B. hit the ball off the machine's pitch his second time at bat!
* Mr. G hit the ball with his usual grace and power (the kid's got his dad's gene pool).
* While playing "pitcher," Mr. G caught the first hit and threw it to first base for the first out on the first play of that inning. The entire crowd cheered at his athletic prowess and I admit I felt unbelievably proud.
I leave you with this recap of one part of my night because it is equally frustrating and hilarious.
Dear Parent A,
It was a surprise to see your kids at the game last night considering how they missed both pre-season practices and no one called to explain their absence or courteously inform us of their intention to stay on the team. Fortunately I had their t-shirts ready in case you showed up.
During practice Mr. D covered the fundamentals of throwing, catching and hitting the baseball. Since you first appeared 5 minutes before the game, we had insufficient time to explain these concepts to your son and daughter. Why, Little Jimmy even had his glove on the wrong hand! How silly! It was nice of you to send them each with a glove, water bottle and hat, but teaching them how to wear their gloves would have been helpful. When Mr. T first went out for soccer years ago, I didn't know how he should wear shin guards so I asked somebody for help. You know, so as not to embarrass my kid when he showed up for his first practice. I try to have a rudimentary understanding of all the gear and equipment and pass that knowledge on to my kids when they go out for a sport.
Anyhoo, Little Jimmy and Little Sally didn't learn how to throw or catch in those few minutes before the game. We slated them for the outfield because we weren't even certain they'd show up. Turns out it was probably best for their safety to keep them in the outfield. At least they had their gloves on the correct hands when they went out there.
Speaking of heading to the outfield, you probably noticed how all the other players ran when switching from dugout to field. They all responded to my verbal cue of "Hustle up! Get to your position!" with speed and enthusiasm. Except for your kids. They sauntered to the outfield like my 85-year-old grandmother shuffling across the hospital hallway after she broke her foot. Little Sally came back to the dugout twice, once for a sip from her water bottle and again for her pink Old Navy baseball cap. When I called out, "Hustle up, Little Sally and Little Jimmy! You're a ballplayer and ballplayers hustle!" you were considerate to step into the dugout and inform me that your children don't like to run or move fast. May I again tell you that this might prove problematic in playing baseball.
It was fine that you brought your kids to the game without their own bats, we had plenty. I was happy to show them the proper way to hold a baseball bat and explain how to swing it (remember, across the body, not up and over their heads like they're chopping wood). We'll worry about lining up our knuckles and standing parallel to the plate another day. I'm just glad we got their hands on the right end of the bat. Little Sally took some passionate swings at the ball after it landed behind her in the dirt. And plenty of players on both teams had to hit off the tee when their 3 tries at machine pitches didn't work out. We'll cover hitting the ball instead of the tee with your kids another time.
And bathroom breaks are fine! However, in general, most kids can make it a whole hour without taking one during a game. If this happens again, I do hope Little Jimmy remembers that his job is to wait by me when he returns and I'll send him back into the game between plays. He missed most of the 3rd inning because each time I looked down to send him in, he'd wandered out of the dugout to go sit by you.
Much of this confusion is common in new players, but I confess it surprised me to see your children so unprepared for their first machine pitch game--I know they played two years of tee ball, so I assumed most of this knowledge would transfer forward. Hopefully this letter clarifies a few finer points of the machine pitch league and how coming to practice or at playing a little catch in your back yard will help your kids participate more fully in our games this season.
P.S. For future reference, none of the other parents sat in the dugout--alone or with their toddler. I was very pleasant about your error in judgment on this point. Mr. D probably won't be.