PLAYING, COACHING, AND WATCHING BASEBALL IT’S A FAMILY TRADITION
Throughout this past winter and spring, some were concerned we wouldn’t have an MLB season this year because the owners and players struggled to compromise. Thankfully, they made up and we’ve already enjoyed a couple of months of great baseball. The sport has always had a special place in my heart because it has been a great bonding experience for multiple generations of my family. Nearly 40 years ago, I started playing Little League baseball with my dad serving as our team’s coach. I grew up in a small town along the Sacramento river, and we always played teams from the other towns up and down the river. It truly developed into a childhood rivalry for many years. Our grade school consisted of kids from kindergarten all the way through eighth grade, and there were only about 200 kids enrolled. The other schools in our area had similar levels of enrollment. This meant I played with and against the same group of kids from elementary school all the way through high school. I like to think I was a pretty decent player during those years, but most of the time, our team wasn’t worried about wins or stats. We were way more focused on who could get the largest piece of gum in their mouths or simply playing
our role on the diamond. We learned most of our skills by watching the pros play on TV, but back in the day we only had five TV channels, so our options were limited. We watched the Giants or the A’s, so I quickly became a fan of those teams. When it came time to pick team names for all of the teams along the river, you can only imagine how many kids wanted to be the Giants or Athletics. We were one of just two teams that had a couple girls on our Little League team, and oddly enough, I recently had a patient explain that their mom knew who I was. I asked how and they said we had played baseball together years ago. I reached out to her a few days later, and we reminisced about our playing days. She actually sent me a picture from the early ‘80s of our team. We looked exactly like the Bad News Bears, goofball kids wearing trucker-style baseball caps with bad haircuts and oversized uniforms. Whenever I look back on those days, I’m incredibly thankful my dad was my coach. He taught me a lot about the sport and served as a great example of what a coach should be. When my son started to play in Little League, I wanted to coach his team as my dad did for mine, and I did so until he was too old for Little League. I
had given out all of the baseball knowledge I possessed, and I knew my son was ready to be coached by someone other than his dad. Now, my son is playing for a travel baseball team and loving every second of it. We’re spending every minute many weekends entrenched in baseball. Sometimes when they play three games in one day, we’re at the diamond for hours on end. I always look forward to tournaments and games so I can see him play. Little League provides a great opportunity for our kids to build character and discipline. As a player, you’re always looking to improve, and hard work truly does pay off. If you play to the best of your ability and learn from your mistakes, you should be a better player when the season comes to a close. National Little League Week takes place during the second week of June, and it’s a great opportunity to get out and watch a game or play a game of catch with your kids. These moments don’t last forever, so savor them while you can.
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