Play Ball

- -

First day of baseball. First practice. Tigers Majors. 

Eleven kids. Four coaches. All new. On the first day of practice, you stumble with their names, they stumble with their moves, the balls feel heavy, the bats heavier. The team looks like a bunch of spare parts, old mis-matched baseball jerseys, random hats from far-ago teams, brand-new cleats that are too stiff, hand-me down cleats that are too big, one-more-season cleats that are too small. The kids mill around, look at the ground, hesitate and halt before pairing off for warm up tosses, there’s 11 this year, one is left out, until he slides into the line, alternating from a kid named Colby and standing next to a kind named Colt, a mixer that is slow to go.

The mood, the method changes as the season progresses, a couple of practices knock off the rust, a couple of games build up the trust, you start to know the boys’ strengths, their weaknesses, their facades of strengths, their hidden weaknesses. You see who can hit in the clutch, who can field a grounder and pivot to second, who has instincts on the basepaths and who wants to be the guy up with two outs and a tie game, who plays for himself, who plays for the team. By the time you get to majors, at least, they all want to play. 

Baseball. Ah, baseball. 

Here’s another baseball memory from last summer.