From Chicken Soup for the Baseball Fan's Soul

It’s Baseball Season

The team members’ attention spans stretch barely the length of a cartoon. Their eyes are invisible beneath oversized batting helmets. They wear T-shirts with messages like “Critter Ridders Pest Control: 30 Years of Service in Roaches.”

All across the country, it’s T-ball season.

I became a T-ball mom when my seven-year-old son signed up to be a Giant (an obvious misnomer for a team where no one can bench press a Nerf ball). I should have been prepared. We limped through flag football last fall.

I still remember that day when the youngest kid on the football field kept interrupting the game squealing, “Coach, are we winning yet?”

It’s a significant question.

In T-ball, no one even keeps score. That’s good. It makes me think of Megan, a little girl I met before I moved to Idaho. Megan could neither hit nor throw a ball, but she wanted to play T-ball. I saw a few of her games.

Megan’s parents and coaches practiced with her, encouraged her and never once considered calling her a klutz. But when the last game of the season rolled around, Megan still hadn’t connected with the ball.

When she finally did, she hit an easy pop fly and her team lost. But the people in the bleachers stood up and cheered for Megan. Because, by that time, everyone knew she was a winner.

I moved away before Megan grew up, but I’m sure she grew up successful. Not because she had any more talent than the boy whose dad yelled at him whenever he didn’t get a hit. In fact, she probably had much less. But Megan had something else. She had people around her who cared, not about her batting average, but about her.

Not long ago, I sat listening to a speaker who insisted that we are living in the midst of a generation of kids who see themselves as potential failures.

Among the causative factors, she said, parental influence is the greatest. I’m determined to be the right kind of T-ball mom. My husband may do a better job with practice sessions, but I’m pretty good at screaming, “Way to go, slugger!” Even when (and all of this has happened this season) . . .

The second baseman is turning cartwheels when he’s supposed to be fielding the ball.

A child is lying flat on the ground refusing to budge after he’s been thrown out—and the other kids are trampling over him.

A batter is rounding the bases because the right fielder doesn’t want to give up the ball.

The coach is yelling, “Take your base, Son,” but the kid is standing there pointing toward center field. His mother yells from the stands, “That means he has to go to the bathroom.”

In spite of it all, these children are making their first stabs at growing up. They’re taking their first steps toward life in the major leagues. They may be chewing bubble gum instead of tobacco and they may not have learned how to scratch themselves yet, but they take their base hits seriously.

I’m glad they haven’t yet “arrived.” I’d hate to give up being a T-ball mom, because I think I really like the game.

After all, anything that ends with Reese’s Pieces and Kool-Aid Kool Bursts can’t be all bad.

Denise Turner

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