Is there anything more American than a baseball game in a small town on a summer evening?
I think not. Unless they served apple pie at the concession stand and then that would just be over-the-top.
My youngest boy is playing T-ball for the first time this year. Let me just say that we are not a sports family. Our oldest played T-ball when he was young and when he entered junior high, he decided to try his hand at track, but for the most part he could care less about sports. He’s a 14-year-old boy and I have to remind him how many downs there are in football. I know. Weird. Now, if you have a question about the protein content of the feed he mixes for his pigs, no problem. But from the time my boys have been little, they cared nothing for a ball. We would try to get them to play catch. “No thanks,” they said, “let’s go to check cows.”
I know this about my family, but I still think there is something to be learned by playing sports. We can’t be dirt and manure and livestock shows all the time. And I’m not going to say I was right, but he’s had a good time. He sees his buddies, he has learned something new and if there’s a Capri Sun at the end of it, then all the better.
And the coaches? Gold. I appreciate them like you couldn’t believe. Did I mention we aren’t a sports family? So this kid knew nearly nothing about T-ball. Did they care? Not one bit. They encouraged him, gave him high-fives and fist bumps and hollered, “Good job!” “Nice throw!”
At one of the first games, when he was too busy digging in the dirt to notice a ball go sailing past him, they simply reminded him that he can’t catch the ball if he isn’t watching. No harsh words, just more encouragement.
Notice the dirty T-shirt, jeans and seed corn cap on the coach? This was taken full-on in the middle of wheat harvest. I don’t know for sure, but I bet there was a combine idling somewhere while he stopped to help these little boys and girls have a good time and learn a little teamwork.
Because at the end of the game, where no one really knows who won, they line up, as excited as can be. And “Good game!” echoes from 15 kids, times two teams as they all congratulate each other. Now that’s an All-American spirit I can get behind.