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I was sitting in the bleachers this week, watching my son's first Little League game, and I couldn't help but chuckle -- I kept it to myself, for the most part -- at the happenings on the field. The right fielder was busy building a grass fort, the left fielder was to the second-base side of short stop, and several players must've missed dinner in the rush to get to the ballpark, because they were gnawing on their gloves. 052911 PEOPLE 1 WILL MORROW I was sitting in the bleachers this week, watching my son's first Little League game, and I couldn't help but chuckle -- I kept it to myself, for the most part -- at the happenings on the field. The right fielder was busy building a grass fort, the left fielder was to the second-base side of short stop, and several players must've missed dinner in the rush to get to the ballpark, because they were gnawing on their gloves.
Sunday, May 29, 2011

Story last updated at 5/29/2011 - 2:16 pm

Take me out to the ball game



I was sitting in the bleachers this week, watching my son's first Little League game, and I couldn't help but chuckle -- I kept it to myself, for the most part -- at the happenings on the field. The right fielder was busy building a grass fort, the left fielder was to the second-base side of short stop, and several players must've missed dinner in the rush to get to the ballpark, because they were gnawing on their gloves.

After the game, I asked my son if he would've noticed if a ball had been hit his way. His reply was a very enthusiastic "Maybe." But he did give us a rundown of the shapes he was drawing in the dirt with his foot.

Baseball is a game of nostalgia, and all this had me reminiscing about my days as a Little Leaguer. And let's face it, first-year kid-pitch Little League is played at such a pace that allows plenty of opportunity to kick back, relax and reminisce.

My son's Little League team is the Rockies. He was very disappointed with that name -- he thought his team was going to be the Rockers instead.

My first team was the Brewers. If you want to figure out how old I am, I'll give you this clue: I played for the Little League Brewers before the last time that Major League Baseball's Brewers made it to the World Series. It was also the Brewers' only trip to the World Series.

My next team was the Mets. Growing up outside of Boston, that might've been a curious name for a team (I'm pretty sure our league did not have the Yankees), but I'll give you another clue to my age: I played for the Mets long before that was added to the list of four-letter words one does not utter in that region.

I remember being put on the mound as an 8- or 9-year-old. Apparently, I was one of only a few players on the team who could put the ball over the plate with any consistency. I also remember my Dad trying to console me after a game in which the other team thumped us by telling me that was actually a good thing, because it meant I was throwing strikes, which was actually the most important thing at that age. I remember not believing him then; I wonder if my son will believe me now?

I batted left-handed, and I vividly remember the first time I faced a left-handed pitcher. I struck out on three pitches. Not only did I not swing at any of them, I also bailed from the batter's box as soon as the ball left the pitcher's hand. Having never faced a southpaw, it looked to me like he was aiming straight for my head. He set up on the first-base side of the rubber, and the pitches came right across the inside corner -- or at least that's what I was told; I wasn't sticking around to see.

For the first few years, the field we played at didn't have outfield fences. Beyond the field was woods; if you could get around the bases before the outfielder could find the ball, it was a home run. If the ball went to a certain spot in right field, the home run was automatic -- that's where the patch of poison ivy was growing.

I remember the first year cups were mandatory, and the coach having everyone line up and knock twice to prove you we wearing one.

I remember the best catch I ever made. I was 12, and had been called up to the majors. They stuck me in right field (this was the good field, with the fence and no poison ivy), but we had some very good pitchers, and not much was happening out there. The batter was one of those kids who was freakishly big for his age, and he got a hold of one. I made the catch running to my right, reaching up and snaring the ball just above the fence. I don't know how I even saw the ball with the sun directly in my eyes, and I think the coach was as surprised as I was.

I also remember the same coach asking me to bunt. It was such a good bunt, he actually specifically mentioned it in his postgame pep talk. I never mentioned that I had no idea where the ball went as I think I had my eyes closed.

My son is really enjoying baseball. His personality seems suited to the rhythm of the game. He said he likes it "because you don't really have to be good at anything."

I'm not sure what he means by that. There's a lot of people who will say that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do. At some point, he will notice that some kids are better than others.

In the mean time, if you've got a picture or message you'd like see in the infield dirt, he takes requests.

Will Morrow is the managing editor at the Peninsula Clarion.





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2010 Peninsula Clarion award winners

Best Education Reporting
1st Place – Dante Petri, “All under one roof

Suzan Nightingale Award: Best Columnist

2nd Place – Will Morrow, “Voices of the Clarion”

Best Sustained Coverage

3rd Place – Dante Petri, “Mt. Redoubt Eruption”

Best News Photo

3rd Place – M. Scott Moon, “Bear Rescue

Best Photo Portrait
3rd Place – M. Scott Moon, “Ear Gauger

Best Audio Slideshow
2nd Place – M. Scott Moon, “Learning to ski

Best Use of Story and Photos by a Journalist
2nd Place – Joseph Robertia, “Dipnet disaster averted

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