Baseball and Little League

From Our Gastonia, NC Correspondent

As I write this, the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians are readying to meet for a Game 7 For The Ages in the World Series.  Never before have two teams with such a record of futility and heartbreak met for the championship of any professional sport.  It is moments like this when we, as Americans, embrace the simple, pastoral, agonizingly slow movement of baseball and tune out the chatter and clatter of the world around us.

I’ve always loved baseball.  My younger son plays it, and this year during one game he was on third base, the potential winning run.  The batter tapped a slow grounder that eluded the shortstop, and my fiancée snapped a picture of me shouting my fool head off at the backstop while my son’s coach met him with a bear hug at home plate.

Right there was what, to me, makes baseball such a perfect sport for young boys and girls to play. (Yes, and girls. Several teams in our league had girls … usually the best pitchers.)  My son’s ability got him the hit that got him on first base.  His alertness to a passed ball got him to second. But his teammates’ slugging prowess was what got him across home plate.  It’s a perfect melding of independent achievement and reliance on the efforts of others, a life lesson that should be taught and taught frequently to the shorter set.

Yes, baseball isn’t as fast-paced as basketball. It doesn’t offer the visceral satisfaction of a bone-crunching football tackle. It IS more lively than soccer (as is accounting, fishing and watching paint dry), but it still requires patience and focus.  Hey, that’s two more great lessons for the kiddos and their parents, too!

My son’s team won their league championship.  He struck out both times he came to the plate, but he felt no less a part of the team when the pizza boxes opened for the postgame celebration.  My fondest hope is that we all can grab a slice of American togetherness ourselves on Nov. 8.

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