Brayden started tee ball this year, and I can’t help but think I’m reliving “A League of Their Own”. We are a bunch of dads who never made it on our own, trying to manage a group of unmanageables. In the movie, it all comes to a head in that scene where Tom Hanks stands at the urinal for an inordinately long amount of time. Madonna gets out a stopwatch and declares, “That was some good peein’.”
Co-ed five-year-old tee ball is exactly like that. Except the peein’ is never any good. The bathrooms are super far away. The little ones hold it so long they can barely get there in time. You have to loosen their baseball pant strings for them. And you’re never quite sure what to do with the mitt while you’re standing there (my recommendation is to wear it on top of your head like a hat).
Brayden has been hyped up to play baseball for more than a year. Last year, he didn’t quite make the age cut-off, but that was fine with us. Of course, in the weeks leading up to the start of the season he had plenty of questions. Questions like, “What about the ghost runners?” And “Will my baseball games have commercials?”
It’s hard to coral that many kiddos, so I’ve helped out by doing a bit of “coaching” for the team, and the Angels’ first game was Saturday.
The team was huddled up before the game. There are ten kiddos on our team, but only nine had made it to the diamond. The coach figured out who was missing and declared that Ryan wasn’t there yet. Brayden shouted dramatically, “Oh no! We can’t win without Ryan!” It was a funny quote, made even funnier by the fact that 1. Ryan is a little girl that isn’t superbly better than the rest of the players, 2. There’s no scorekeeping in first-year tee ball, so no one wins, and 3. The kids had had two practices at that point, so Brayden probably wouldn’t have known little Ryan from Nolan Ryan.
But Ryan finally showed up and the game started. Brayden did very well. There are no outs in beginners tee ball, so even if you get tagged out, you still get to run the bases. Of five or six outs the teams got the entire game, Brayden made at least four of the plays. He tagged two runners out after fielding the ball. In one incredible play (for five-year-olds), he stopped the ball near the pitchers mound, threw the ball accurately to first base (incredible), and the first baseman caught it (even more unbelievable)! It was the top play that night on kindergarten SportsCenter.
On the final batter of the game, Brayden fielded the ball at second base, chased a runner around second, around third, and tagged him out on the way home. He also hit the ball well.
He was even the last batter one inning, meaning he hit a “home run”, as the last batter gets to clear the bases.
For me, one of the best moments came when a little girl on our team made it to third base in the second inning. I was the third base coach and decided to say, “Hey! Your pants are dirty! That means you’re playing hard!” Now, the game was at 8:00 a.m., and you could tell most kids just rolled out of bed to make the start of the game. After the pants comment, the little girl beamed and said proudly, “AND I’m wearing my pajamas under my uniform…with no underwear!”
Truthfully, Brayden’s team — the Angels — has a good coach, a bunch of supportive, friendly parents, and kids that crack me up. I look forward to a great first season.