Watching the Little League World Series
last week brought back memories of my little league playing days. What I recall most is that I was not a very good player. As a result, it was not much fun. There was one sunny summer day in which I was not interested in the play going on the field, even though I was standing in dead center field. I seem to remember the distant ping of an aluminum bat, and my coaches yelling for someone to look up from the butterfly that had caught their undivided attention. Before I realized that someone was me, I was hit squarely on top of my head. Not fazed by this event, I calmly picked up the ball that seemed to deaden on impact, and threw it to the second baseman. It took a couple hops before it rolled to its intended target.
That was my baseball career, in a nutshell. It literally took a knock on the head for me to realize I must explore other avenues of entertainment. I am a baseball fan, who is better off enjoying the game from the bleachers.
Fast-forward 30 years.
I am now the announcer for my local Little League, the first in their 50-year history. It is a job I enjoy immensely. It offers no pay, long hours, but plenty of entertainment, not just for me, but for the kids on the field, and the parents in the stands.
I love the game of baseball. To me, it is the purest form of enjoyment there is. I want the children of today to enjoy the game for what it isÃ¢Â?Â¦..a game. There are parents and coaches who are living vicariously through their children, and reliving old “Glory Days,” to quote Bruce Springsteen. They forget it is just a game, not life. They put too much pressure on their kids to succeed; they forget to let them to just be a kid.
I have seen coaches scream at umpires and carry on like raving lunatics on the bench. It seems they forget the Little League Parents and Coaches Pledge, where the promise to respect the decision of the umpires. I have witnessed a visiting coach shove a 12-year-old boy by his head because he was not pitching as well as the coach felt he should be.
Conshohocken Little League is now a league from yesteryear. What I have done is bring the simple pleasures of the ballpark to little league. Players and coaches alike dance along with the music played between innings, both on the field and in the dugouts. Parents have sent their children up to the announcer’s booth to request a particular song, namely, “Time to Change” by The Brady Kids. I see young children doing The Chicken Dance and mimicking the movements to The Village People’s “YMCA” in unison.
When I look out of my booth and see a team that is down by six runs in the bottom of the last inning of a playoff game, they are not hanging their heads or crying, they are jumping around like the Delta’s on Animal House when Otis Day and The Knights play “Shout!”
It is not life. It is just a game. Life should be fun.
So should baseball.