Friday, June 24, 2011

Helping Create One More Baseball Fan Maybe Two

I have also had a great appreciation for sports. For the most part I keep my passion for all things sports on the reserved side. As a father a nice bonus is being able to impart my knowledge and share experiences with my daughter. The range of topics that can flow through the household can be a bit dizzying at times but, always lively and fun filled. With Elle getting older one of the great joys I get to share with her is sports and of late baseball. My introduction to sports was a bit different than Elle's.

When I was growing up I tried to play catch with my father. He was not graced with an athletic bone in his body he was more of an academic. Our time with baseball was short lived after I hit a line drive right into a sensitive area. That ended our outings in the yard. So, what I learned about sports was mostly from watching televised games. Much was learned from trial and error when I participated in team sports. I always felt so behind skill wise. I did always seem to be that kid that was the fastest I just lacked any polish. The best times I had playing youth team sports was on the baseball field. I had coaches that realized I had the asset of speed and motivated me to exploit it. The rundown when they gave me was that I would bunt down the third baseline and just blast off to first and beat out the throw. The bunt signal was great all he would do is scratch his nose. The other part of the plan was just to steal second and third and be in position to be a scoring run. It was simple and it worked. That's when the seeds where planted for my love of sports. Thanks to coach Hurt and Sullivan. Naturally this joy of watching and participating is something that I've looked forward to sharing with my child.

Many of the sports I first introduced to Elle were taken up with much enthusiasm. Once she got the hang of walking she soon started dribbling the soccer ball around the living room. Soon after it was tossing around the football. Living a few blocks away from a college provided a venue for her to she women's soccer and lacrosse. Seeing that then feed into the question of "when will I get to play on a team". The only sport that was a hard sell was baseball. Having a minor league team that's also located a few blocks away provided the opportunity to expose her to the game. But, when we would go she was more interested in the mascot than what was taking place on the field. Which I get it's a difficult game to try to explain all the in's and out's to kid without them glazing over. Mostly I was content with the fact that when it came to baseball it would just be my thing.

Some how this past spring I was pleasantly surprised to make a baseball break through with Elle. It was a beautiful day out and we were looking for something to do outdoors. I happen to see that the local team was having spring training games so I thought let's give it a go. Elle's first question was will the mascot be there with a follow up of will there be fireworks. Despite a stern look she was okay with the explanation that it was just a practice game so the two items are saved for the real games. We arrived at the stadium and it was a little less than a quarter full. So, we could sit behind home plate away from anyone we might disturb. My first thought was maybe she'll make it a few innings and then just be over the whole scene. All of the sudden a flood of questions rallied off from Elle's mind. We actually sat and amazingly I explained the game of baseball and she began to understand what was going on. I noticed she kept on looking over her shoulder which begged the question what are you looking at. "The numbers that show up every time the player pitches the ball, it says 85, that's pretty good." It sealed a successful and fun outing.
That spring training game set the foundation. It lead to sitting in on some more spring training games after I would get her from school and before we had to pick up her mom from the train station. When we would be waiting for my wife's train to arrive Elle would say "I can't wait to tell mom about the game do you think we can all go together sometime soon". We did go shortly after that once the regular season opened up. We didn't spend the game trying to chase down the mascot. We sat together with questions from both Elle and my wife and I was happy to explain. Elle's enthusiasm helped feed into her mom learning about what was actually taking place on the field. We ended the night with the home teaming winning and enjoyed the post game fireworks. Instead of a boring sport that dad would watch on the TV when everyone else was asleep it became something we could share.

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