Fatherhood and Little League Baseball

A little over a week ago, I received an email stating that Manchild made his Little League’s All-Star team. It was an exciting moment, and I couldn’t have been more proud of or excited for him. He loves playing baseball, and receiving this honor easily rates as one of his biggest childhood achievements. Amazingly, as great as the honor was in of itself, at the All-Star Game on Saturday he had one of the best days of his season: he went 3-for-3 with a double, two runs scored, & an RBI. Furthermore, he made a great play in the field that I will detail soon.

I too had a role in the game (aside from being a proud, supportive parent): I volunteered to keep score and count pitches for his team and thought little of it. It was an extension of a role I filled all season; ideally, I would’ve have volunteered to help coach his team, but the fact he played in Montgomery County, where his mom lives, meant I would miss at least half his practices. Luckily, my work schedule allowed me to attend all his games, where I frequently volunteered to assist in any way possible. When the All-Star coaches started looking for someone to maintain the team’s scorebook, I readily accepted the role. It meant I couldn’t simply enjoy watching the game and take pictures, but I truly wanted to help if possible.

I did get a few pictures, but IMG_1018I needed to rely on Manchild’s mom to perform the yeoman’s work of getting as many as possible. She didn’t disappoint (nor was there any concern that she would), and a large number of those photos, as well as videos of his at bats, ended up on Facebook. Next time I see her, I plan on providing her with a thumb drive that she can then place all the videos and pictures on it.

As much as I would have enjoyed taking my own pictures, my involvement in the game meant I was closer to the field than most of the other parents, and it allowed me to interact with Manchild at various times during the game. This most notably occurred while he was catching. He doesn’t particularly enjoy it, but he’s a consummate team player and will play any position the coaches tell him to field. During his first inning of work while behind the plate, there were a couple pop-ups that he couldn’t locate quickly enough to make a play on. On both of them, I very good-naturedly gave him guff, telling him, “Carlos Ruiz would have made that play.”

He persevered, and I received my comeuppance on his last play at that position. The bases were loaded with one out when the batter hit a routine grounder to second that resulted in an out at first. The runner on third scored, and then the runner originally on second attempted to score as well. Manchild took part in well-executed rundown and while running the runner back to the third, he noticed the runner who was originally on first scampering back to second from third. He made a perfect throw to second, and the fielder covering the base was able to apply the tag for the inning’s third out. As he returned from the field, Manchild emphatically pointed to second base and exclaimed to me, “And, Carlos Ruiz would’ve done that!” Once again, I swelled with pride, while simultaneously guffawing.

After the game, his mother and I took the time to speak with the coach of his regular team to thank him for all his hard work this season. Then, to my surprise, he thanked me for everything I did during the season, and pointedly stated that my volunteering to keep score during the All-Star Game was an example of the type of things most parents don’t do. Although not officially a coach for the team, my contributions were just as valuable, and he wished there were more parents like me. It always amazes me to hear things like that. Yes, I know that many parents are happy to simply show up and watch the game — those that actually do stay and watch, rather than just drop off and pick up — but I just cannot fathom how a parent wouldn’t volunteer if there was something they could do to help.

Anyway, Manchild has two more remaining games this spring before the season ends. No matter how he performs in them, I will view his All-Star game as the fitting end to his season. I’m looking forward to see how he’ll handle himself when he moves up to the next age division during the fall season, and I’ll continue to help his team in whatever capacity I can.

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