Our Kids’ First Baseball, Softball, T-Ball Games Are Only The Beginning
It starts in the grass.
One day not too long from now, they’ll be skinning their legs as they slide into rock-hard dirt at third base. One day, the taste of that dirt and the smell of the game — sun and sweat-covered uniforms, popcorn and hotdogs, the leather and oil of the glove — it will all be as familiar as home.
But today, it starts in the grass. All it takes is a little white spray paint to recreate a miniature diamond — just the right size for pudgy little legs to run timidly ‘round the bases.
It starts as something completely new.
And despite the repetition — field the ball, throw to first, move to the back of the line — they’re not yet feeling confident. They look up at the coach before making any moves. “Throw over there again?” they wonder, and she smiles and encourages so patiently.
At bat, they’re guided to the right place to stand, where they swing several times before connecting. And then it’s not uncommon to see them carry the bat as they run.
It’s new and strange and baffling now, but soon they’ll know it well. Even like the back of their hands.
It starts without much focus.
The years will pass by quickly, though. And these little ones — once distracted by dandelions in the outfield, losing their wishes to the wind — they’ll turn into ball players. Those who give their hearts to the game will find their fierceness and their focus and their intensity… and that rush that comes from love.
The same children will start growing, and one day they’ll find themselves eating, sleeping, breathing, practicing, and playing their beloved sport almost around the clock, if only for a season.
At first, they’re a league full of strangers.
Or maybe, at best, it’s a haphazard collection of sweet kiddos whose last names you’re starting to recognize.
Your own children might know some from school. Still, during the handful of games this season, they won’t turn into a team. Not yet. But not long from now, the strangers on that tiny field will turn into amazing friends. Those friends will bond as a team. And that team will be part of a tight-knit community of players, coaches, and spectators. Parents watch so intently and cheer so loudly, it’s like every kid on that field is their own.
Those strangers will become something like family. People who love and look out for one another. People whose lives are interconnected in a truly special way.
And today is just the beginning.
But there are glimpses of what’s to come over the years. The kids are learning so much more than just how to play a game. The parents are offering the first of their encouraging smiles to one another — smiles that will turn into friendships, and carpools, and barbecues.
For the next couple years, everybody on the roster will have the chance to bat and field each inning. They’ll have the chance to learn the fundamentals before they ever feel the sting of an out.
And then one day, in a handful of years, they will truly KNOW the game. For some, it’ll turn into more than a game, really… it’ll turn into a piece of their hearts.
One day, a group of teenage girls will laugh together and cry together and belt their pre-game good luck songs as one exhausted mama drives them hundreds of miles for a tournament. Today will be merely a memory as she studies their faces in the rearview mirror.
One day, those boys will have each other’s backs. They’ll learn how to trust each other — both on the field and off.
One day, their cleats will crush those dandelions as their eyes zero in on the ball.
One day, that diamond of dirt will feel like HOME to the kids who love the game.
It starts in the grass.