Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
August 8, 2003
BASEBALL: The Next Generation
So, I was out in the back yard (such as it is) with my 6-year-old son a good part of last weekend, working on his swing. Every male baseball fan starts this early with his sons, and it's frustrating because we all start too early. I remember when he wasn't two yet, and we had him hitting from his knees with a fat bat off a wobbly Fisher-Price tee and we all shouted "yay" whenever he hit the ball. His response: "More yay!" Well, he is my son.
Now, he's old enough; I was pitching to him and letting him pitch to me. One of the oddities of playing whiffle ball with a 6-year-old . . . ordinarily, you don't want to dive too far for a pitch because you can't get enough force behind it when you're swinging off balance. But here I had the opposite problem: when you swing level at a pitch in your wheelhouse, you can slow the bat down and make sure you don't hit it too hard. But when you swing at a pitch in the dirt, you're hacking to make contact, so you can't really do that. Unfortunately, one such swing came on a pitch where (as often happens at his age), his delivery turned him around 180 degrees. Result: line drive off the back of his head. That ended Saturday's session, but he came back Sunday and had to be dragged back into the house. Progress.
All I really want is to make sure he can play competently enough to enjoy Little League. Much in contrast to my own experience. For all my enthusiasm for the game, I spent a grand total of one season in organized baseball, in the town recreational "T-Shirt" league (team: the West Nyack Whales), the league where they let everyone play no matter how bad they are. One day we got no-hit by a kid who looked about 12 (this was the 9-year-olds league). We went 1-8 in a 9-Saturday season, and due to a combination of bad eyesight and horrendous hand-eye coordination (I'm no good at video games, for the same reason) I never even managed a foul ball. My only skill was getting hit by pitches; I was drilled 5 times in the first 7 games, although I did at least score a run to contribute to our only win after getting hit in the head.
That ended my hardball career; I played some intramural softball in college, not well but not quite as badly (I got the occasional hit). I'm hoping my son can at least get more out of playing the game than that.