Fierce soprano voices yell “Hey, batter!” Super-sized helmets top skinny little necks. Pint-sized players wield mitts big as sofa pillows (and often about as effective).
A hometown crowd cheers and munches hot dogs and popcorn.
It’s the season of Little League Love.
Unlike most onlookers, my husband and I are at a comfortable spectator stage, our children grown.
So I can actually watch games, which I rarely did during my son’s baseball career. Like many moms, I spent years sitting on the bleachers with eyes tightly shut, only opening them when I visited the concession stand.
We fans really try to behave. But when offspring are involved, the most righteous dad sometimes lets loose a tirade. The gentlest, sweetest grandma grows fangs when the umpire dares call her grandson out.
Of course, I never acted like that. I do, however, admit to going a little overboard in motivating my child, egged on by another mom. My friend loudly informed her twelve-year-old that if he didn’t hit that ball, she was going to dance for the crowd’s entertainment. I informed my son that I would sing. High. And very loud.
Not only did our sons smack the ball as if their lives depended on it, we inspired the entire team.
Yet despite our critical role in the victory, nobody put our names on their trophy. Where was the Mom love in that?
A roar from the present crowd brings me back from nostalgia. On this diamond, where younger teams play, contact with the ball almost guarantees a home run and most successful defense is purely accidental.
The players appear deeply serious, but the coaches are less, and the crowd has a ball. Some mothers even watch with their eyes open.
They contrast with their glazed-eyed kids, several of whom snore at their positions, the sun having set. An infield player makes interesting dance moves, but I don’t think he anticipates a Dancing with the Stars career. He forgot to visit the restroom earlier, so the compassionate umpire grants a special time out.
It’s easy for me to laud the joys of Little League from my maybe-I’ll-go-maybe-not perspective. For parents who spend enough time to earn a college degree watching, waiting and transporting, Little League Love wears a little thin. But one sitting near us saw it as a win-win situation. If his son’s team won, they’d return the following night for another chance at the championship. If they lost, he could run a combine over his neglected lawn.
He’s a dad who cares, yet doesn’t care too much about the game’s outcome. And that’s the very best kind of Little League Love.
What’s your favorite kid baseball moment?