Finally, finally baseball season is here.
Callum has been waiting for this day for weeks. As soon as he got up, he had his game face on.
Saturday was Opening Day of our Little League season.
There's a lot of history surrounding baseball in the United States, and a lot of history surrounding Little League too. As you may remember, Callum started playing baseball for the first time ever this past fall. It was Little League Lite.
We learned this fall that the Little League where Callum was playing was going through a sad transition. For various reasons, Fleet Park Little League, which had been in existence for more than 50 years had to leave the facility that serves nearly 500 kids a season. We'd missed all the strife of trying to stay in the same location. And we missed all the strife of trying to find a new one. By the time Callum started playing baseball, an agreement had been met with another city Little League and plans were set in motion for Fleet Park to continue as a joint operation. All that was left to do last fall was say goodbye. Even for us, who'd been there such a short amount of time, saying good-bye to Fleet Park was hard. The Little League had invested $100,000 into the facility over the years, and it took as much as it could with them. Our city really stepped up. Nearly $200,000 was invested in the Little League that we joined, in rebuilding dugouts and regrading fields. Lights were transfered and scoreboards too. There were construction setbacks and weather setbacks, but everywhere people stepped up. The city stepped up and found money and people to help make this season happen, and dozens of volunteers from local businesses to parents and coaches chipped in to make Saturday happen. It was a beautiful thing.
So the Opening Ceremonies were quite impressive and featured a local sports anchorman, a city councilman and the vice mayor. I would have perhaps suggested that they have brought the big kids onto the field first and save the little guys for last (they got quite wiggly as the speakers went on and on and on), but nobody asked me! For those of you not familiar with Little League, the boys teams are named after Major League Baseball teams, like the Yankees, and the Braves. The Girls Softball teams have awesome names like The Ladybugs and Violet's favorite, The Pony Tails!
Callum's on the Red Sox. If you understand anything about American Baseball, you'll understand that we're all trying to come to grips with that.
Most impressive to the kids was RipTide, the mascot for our local minor league team. When I saw that he was grabbing cameras from people, I quietly slid mine behind my back. Even though I was using Old Faithful, there was no way he was getting his hands on my camera!
The ceremony was sweet, with a banner contest, and the Little League pledge, and the national anthem, but really, everyone was itching to play. And finally it was time to get to the field.
One of the things I love about baseball is the ceremony of it. I grew up watching baseball with my dad as a kid and listening to World Series games on the radio in the fall. Little League is that same world made small.
The umpires chat before the game.
The batting helemts await their hitter's turns at the plate.
The chalk lines the infield and the kids warm up, tossing balls from base to base before the game. It's all the same.
The boys sit in the dugout, getting instructions from their coach. I made sure to hang out here long enough to find out where Callum was starting in the field.
It was a rough game for our Sox. After getting behind early, they battled back to take the lead only to lose in the bottom of the last inning. Cal didn't bat the way he wanted, and I know he was frustrated. He got more patient by his last at bat, drawing a walk, but he got stranded on base in the bottom of the last inning. It's a long season, though, and there's a lot of baseball ahead of us. Starting with tonight.
At the Opening Ceremonies, one of the managers of our local minor league team spoke. He's been coming to the Opening Ceremonies of this Little League nearly every year for 50 years. And nearly every year he reads the following poem, being careful to note that it was for little boys and little girls.
HE IS JUST A LITTLE BOY
He stands at the plate,
with his heart pounding fast.
The bases are loaded,
the die has been cast.
Mom and Dad cannot help him,
he stands all alone.
A hit at this moment,
would send the Team home.
The ball meets the plate,
he swings and he misses.
There’s a groan from the crowd,
with some boos and some hisses.
A thoughtless voice cries,
strike out the bum.
Tears fill his eyes,
the game’s no longer fun.
So open your heart,
and give him a break.
For it’s moments like this,
a man you can make.
Please keep this in mind,
when you hear someone forget.
He is just a little boy, and not a man yet.