I love Elijah. Despite never actually catching or hitting a baseball in his life, he decided to join the little league team. They are sponsored by a local dentist and despite their coaches suggestion they be called “The Drillers,” I think the kids are going with “The Cavities” or “The Yuck Mouths.”
For reasons unknown to me, The Yuck Mouths only had one practice before their first game. Which was fine by Eli, but filled me with an icy cold stomach full of panic. I asked him if he caught any balls or got any hits in practice and he happily chirped, “Nope!”
On Saturday, game day, Eli opted not to wear the issued white uniform pants and wore black instead. I tried to explain the importance of blending in when you aren’t the greatest player on the team, but he didn’t want to get his new white pants dirty.
As the kids warmed up, I felt all of my parenting failures on display as Eli chased missed ball after missed ball. But then I opened my aperture a bit and realized all the kids sucked. Sure, there were a few future prom kings who were fielding like Pee Wee Reese (thank you Google), but by and large all the kids were scrambling around like a box full of puppies.
I began to relax. The coach shouted to me with an evil grin, “I’m going to put Eli at first base!”
I shouted back, “Go nuts!”
Eli’s experience at first wasn’t terrific. He had a few balls chucked at him that went into right field, but the general play of the 7 year olds was so 7 year oldie that no one seemed to notice.
Then it was his turn to bat. It dawned on me that this was no three strikes and you are out league. This was a swing until you connected league.
The coach gingerly tossed ball after ball to Eli. Broad sides of barns were missed. The air around his bat seemed to taunt him.
Sweat began to trickle from my armpits and I suddenly for very interested in my iphone. I clenched my eyes, pretending to really need to see what my brother sitting next to be was doing on Facebook.
Then I heard a cheer. I looked up to see Eli running to first base. My boy got a hit! My boy got a hit!
He eventually made it home, scoring his first goal/point/run of his life. He ran to me in the stands and I told him I loved him.
Then I told him he should probably go back and sit with the team in the dugout.