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June 8, 2008

First Hit

My younger son plays Little League baseball. He is not the best player on the team. This is his first year of kid-pitch baseball where instead of a machine the boys themselves pitch to each other, often with varying degrees of success.

The first time my son got up to bat this season he was hit by a pitch. Of course, he was told to take his base, but I knew that this was not the best thing that could have happened to him during his first at bat. As a result, he has been terrified of the ball ever since.

Sometimes he will jump out of the batter's box even before the pitcher has thrown the ball. Other times he will jump out of the way only to hear the umpire call "Steee-rike!"

Now don't get me wrong, this is not unique to my son. Other kids have the same problem. I try to put myself in their shoes: how would I feel to be a 9 year old having other kids my same age throw wild pitches at me, sometimes at my head, and be expected to hit them? Some kids have no problem with this. Other kids definitely have a problem with this. Whereas last year a machine threw a perfect pitch every time, now a kid is throwing wildly all over the place. When to swing? When to let it go? When to get out of the way?

Needless to say, this year has been quite an education. A lot of misses, and a lot of walks. So I've decided that for my son this will be a season of small victories. Can he stay in the batter's box and not jump out before the pitcher throws it? Can he strike out swinging? Can he catch an outfield fly ball? Can he scoop up a grounder and throw it to first? Can he get his first hit?

So, I dropped my son off at the game last Tuesday and told him to do his best. I had to go to a Boy Scout Court of Honor for my older son, so I told my younger son that his Mom would be watching him. But not me. He was upset, but he understood. Then I said, "Don't you get a hit, because I won't be there to see it!" He laughed and told me that "this will be the night!" I secretly wished that would be true.

And then in the third inning ...

Small victories, my friends. Some of the players and parents who play Little League have grand visions of their sons making it to the big show someday. I have much simpler goals. Can my son learn that practice pays off in the long run? Or that overcoming an obstacle sometimes takes hard work? Can he learn what it means to be a part of a team, and that cheering for and encouraging his teammates is just as important as his own performance?

I think so. I have seen a lot of wonderful things during this season of Little League baseball, and very few of them amount to much on the baseball diamond. I don't mean to be melodramatic, but I have seen my son learn to overcome, to give it that little extra effort, to high five a teammate for a job well done, and to make the decision that working towards something that at first seems a little too difficult is actually worth it.

Those are a big deal. To me at least. See you at the ballpark everyone!

andersteam.jpg

Posted by snackeru at June 8, 2008 7:46 PM

Comments

That's fantastic Shane. I know exactly how you feel - my older son is a pretty good baseball player but my younger son, who is 8, struggles. I personally think it's a confidence thing rather than talent. He gets very frusturated if any little thing goes wrong,whereas my older son has always been able to "shake it off." We're working on that, though.

It was great to see the smile on your son's face at 2nd base after his hit.

Jeff T.

Posted by: Jett T. at June 9, 2008 7:43 AM

Nice hit, couldn't believe that centerfielder was shading him to left center, bad scouting by the other coach.

Hmm, #13 huh. Do the kids call him A-Rud?

Posted by: Freealonzo at June 9, 2008 8:14 AM

How did you get so many camera angles? That was down right major league level camera work.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at June 9, 2008 8:42 AM

Luckily for me, even though I missed the game SLP decided that this would be a game that they filmed for community television. So, they had about 4 cameras working the game and color commentary even. You can hear some of it on the YouTube video if you have the volume turned on.

Obviously I was pretty excited when I found this out. Not only could I see his first hit, but I could also show it to all of you! How slick is that?

And Jeff, you are right, it is probably all about confidence. We are working on that too. And Free, that is pretty funny: A-Rud. I can see that catching on!

Posted by: Shane at June 9, 2008 9:28 AM

Nice! Good baserunning, too.

Posted by: Snyder at June 9, 2008 11:17 AM

Mr. Nackaru:

Does your son play 2nd/SS because right now the Twins could sure use some help at those positions and your boy seems like he knows his way around the ol' diamond.

Here's what we can do: $15,000 signing bonus and heck we'll throw in a couple of tickets to the new ballpark (loge level is best I can do - DSP).

How about it? We'd sure like to see your son in a Twins uniform

Posted by: Bill Smith at June 9, 2008 1:03 PM

Now hold on, Billy! I know I can get a lot more for my son based on what you gave up Johan for.

So, here is the new deal: I want an official Greet Machine toilet at the new ballpark. You heard me. I want a toilet somewhere in the ballpark that has a plaque of some sort saying "Official Greet Machine Toilet." It doesn't have to be a big plaque, maybe a couple of inches high and 5 inches wide.

Preferably my official toilet will be close to my loge seats (thanks DSP!).

You do that for me, and you've got a deal!

Posted by: Shane at June 9, 2008 3:46 PM

I dunno, Shane.

I think your son is certain to be college material, so I think the Twins need to offer something more if they expect your son to give up his dream of playing for John Anderson and the Gophers at the ballpark formerly known as Siebert.

I would say since tuition at the U has more than doubled in the nine years since I graduated, it's not outside the realm of possibility that it could be around $20K/year by the time your son would start there, so a signing bonus of $80-$100K sounds about right.

Posted by: Snyder at June 9, 2008 5:32 PM

To say nothing of the RBI and the run scored! Way to go Anders!

Curt in Grand Forks

Posted by: Curt Hanson at June 9, 2008 8:43 PM

Good grief, the kid should have called for the ball! :)

Posted by: SBG at June 10, 2008 4:19 AM

You guys are busting my balls! If you think I can get approved a $100K bonus and designated toilet for that Snackaru kid you don't know Carl Pohlad like I do. Plus I got that Spycake guy up in my grill over ticket prices at the new ballpark so I'm on a pretty tight budget. T. Ryan, want your job back?

Posted by: Bill Smith at June 10, 2008 9:10 AM

Will Carl Pohlad still be alive in 2017?

Posted by: Snyder at June 10, 2008 9:19 AM

Oh Carl will be alive in 2017. He'll be alive forever. I'll tell you why when we get together 6/28.

Posted by: Freealonzo at June 10, 2008 10:19 AM

Put the "Sabotage" mustache on that kid and he'll look just like Wade Boggs!

Posted by: chapman at June 10, 2008 2:47 PM

Augh, Free! That's more than two weeks away!

BTW, Free's got a great question over on his blog:

http://blog.lib.umn.edu/carls064/freealonzo/2008/06/monday_music_list_baseball_int.html

Posted by: Snyder at June 10, 2008 4:05 PM

Here's another cause for you;

http://www.startribune.com/local/south/19745399.html?location_refer=Homepage

Posted by: Derek at June 11, 2008 8:24 AM

I think I'll leave that cause to someone else!

Posted by: Shane at June 11, 2008 2:18 PM

Well, if Shane can't get the designated toilet, perhaps we can name the toilets in all the bathrooms after anti-ballpark weasels. The Phil Krinkie memorial urinal. John Marty's Throne. And I'm saving diarrhea for yours STM!!!!

Posted by: kevin in az at June 11, 2008 6:25 PM

Hey.

I wanted to e-mail you and do a link exchange, but couldn't find your e-mail.

If you see this, please just contact me and feel free to delete this.

Posted by: TwinsTerritory at June 13, 2008 5:30 PM

Congrats to the kid. (And thank goodness no footage exists of my brief Little League career!)

The camera angles were impressive, but it sounds like the announcer called it an "infield hit" which seems wrong as the ball clearly made it into the outfield through no obvious error on the part of the fielders. Maybe your kid should go all Livan Hernandez on the announcing crew...

Posted by: spycake at June 16, 2008 9:27 AM

Isn't it an infield hit when it comes in contact with the ground in the infield rather than landing in the outfield?

Posted by: Snyder at June 16, 2008 6:12 PM

Typically it is ruled an infield hit when it doesn't leave the infield at all. The infield is sometimes stretched if the infielders are playing out more than usual.

Posted by: Derek at June 17, 2008 8:13 AM

That's awesome, Shane! I love the huge grin on his face while he's standing on second. Now he'll have that on record for the rest of his life. It's got me grinning.

Posted by: Dave MN at June 19, 2008 5:51 PM

Would the Little League people get ticked if there was a A-Rud cheering section organized/sponsored by Greet Machine? That could be cool...

Posted by: Snyder at June 20, 2008 1:04 PM

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