Spring – finally in New England

Just as I was ready to post a recipe for wild mushroom ragu, I got completely off track for a while with the horror in Boston.  Then last week I was going to post a really delicious paprika chicken with spaetzle and I caught “some kinda bug” that landed me in the emergency room Saturday for a couple bags of fluids. Since I’m feeling a little better but not yet in my full upright position, let’s talk about something other than food this time.

mush ragu paprika chicken 027

Like how we finally have some beautiful spring weather here in New England.  My husband’s busy flicking channels trying to catch baseball and the last games of the hockey season.  I’m not much for watching sports on tv although I don’t mind an occasional night out at Fenway Park to see a ball game.  Personally, I think there’s lots more action and fun going on down at the local Little League field.

For those of you not familiar with American baseball, it’s pretty simple to understand.  It works like this:

Somebody throws the ball (the pitcher) at someone who’s holding a bat (the batter).  Usually the batter misses and if he misses enough times he has to go back and sit down with the other guys.  If he hits the ball, somebody in the field usually catches it…and he has to go sit down.  If not he gets to jog (millionaires don’t like to run) to 1st base.  Then other guys from his team get up to hit the ball so he can move on to 2nd base, 3rd, and finally home.  It goes on like that for way too long. Of course there’s other things that happen and rules but most of it is throwing a ball, missing a ball, and guys adjusting whatever’s in their pants that for some reason always needs adjusting.

T-ball is the young kids version of the sport.  Since you don’t want a 5 year old throwing a ball at another kid’s head, there isn’t any pitcher and the batter hits off a “T” or ball holder.  They keep swinging until they finally/hopefully hit the ball and run to 1st base.  Since there’s no outs, every kid gets a chance to hit the ball until you’ve gone through everyone and then you switch sides.

Anyway, back to when we first moved here…I showed up at a meeting in town one night thinking that I was signing Niki up to play on a T-ball team and came home with my car loaded with a bag of bats, balls, Little League approved helmets, a whistle and clipboard with the list of my team.  I’m not positive that I got a whistle, that could have been when I went to sign Niki up for soccer and came home with my car full of soccer balls.  My husband thought that me being a coach was a riot until I got one of the bats.  Really, how tough is it to coach T-ball?

First thing… call all your kids’ parents to let them know when the practice and games are and what the kids should bring.  I had my list ready and figured I’d start with a friend whose son was on my team…

“Hi Sharon, I’ve got Jordan on my team and we’re having practice on Tuesday.  Have him bring his own glove and athletic shoes that stay on his feet.”

“Does he need a cup?”

“No, no, I’ve got a big water jug and I’ll bring plenty of cups for everyone… Sharon?  Are you snorting coffee through your nose?  Sharon are you ok?”

There, that went well and just 8 more calls to make.  Now in my defense, let me explain that I had 2 sisters, no brothers and 1 daughter so the only cups that I’m familiar with are sippy cups, Dixie cups, and coffee cups.  Any cups specific to little boys is not in my field of expertise.

Moving on to our first game since the first practice was cancelled due to rain.  Coaching T-ball goes like this:

“Okay guys, we’re up at bat first so everyone sit on the bench until it’s your turn to hit the ball.  Kaitlin, you’re first so put your helmet on.  Aw, I’m sorry sweetie but we only have blue helmets and everyone has to wear a helmet.

t ball 002

ADAM, only the batter can swing the bat so please put the bat down  and sit on the bench until its your turn.

Kaitlin, please put your helmet on because we have to start the game…I’m really sorry we don’t have pink…hey, how about if I put a pink sticker on a helmet  for you next time?  Excellent!

ADAM, stop swinging the bat and go sit on the bench!

Lookin’ good Kaitlin but why don’t we turn you around so you’re facing the ball – you can hit it better if you look at it”.

ADAM, Put. That. (deep breath) Bat. DOWN. and. SIT. on the BENCH.

That was so close Kaitlin, now just swing a little higher and try to hit the ball instead of the T.

ADAM take your glove out of John’s face.

You’re doing great Kaitlin, try again.  No, no don’t cry, you’re doing fine…you don’t want to play any more?  You want to try in a little while?  Well ok, if you want to go sit with Mom for a bit you go ahead and then come back when you want to play some more.

ADAM don’t pinch Jill…or anyone else.

Okay, Garin let’s have you up here buddy. You ready?”

And didn’t Garin nail it out to left field!  Wow this kid must have played ball…so why is he standing there?

“Awesome Garin, run to 1st base”.  And Garin started running.  Then he did a U-turn and came running back to me.

“Garin, that was great but you need to run to 1st base.”

So Garin’s standing there nodding and said…“Ok, but which one’s first?”  Ewww boy…just assumed we all knew that but okay need to remember to cover some basics.  He took off again after I pointed but came back to let me know…“you know I kinda figured that but I wasn’t sure so I figured I’d just check with you, thanks.”  He started off again but before I could get the next batter up, there was my pal Garin back at my side…“Umm, coach?  I got where 1st base is but after that do I run to 2nd base?  Okay, and 2nd’s that one way out there?  Good, that’s what I figured but I just wanted to check with you, thanks.  Oh yeah, then after 2nd is 3rd base?  Right got it, thanks.  Oh, when do I come back here?”

Now you might be thinking, isn’t this kid out by now?  I mean we just had a 10 minute meeting discussing all the places that Garin has to be in the next half hour or so.  First, this is T-ball so remember, there are no outs and everyone gets to run the bases.  Second, that ball that went flying out in the field?  Let’s see it went something like this…

It went between Jason and Mark who then got into a wrestling match, kept going until it landed at the feet of Amanda who didn’t notice because she was just about done making the pretty dandelion necklace for her mother and then had to run off to the sidelines to give it to her.  Brian did see the ball and ran over from the other side of the field but then threw it to 3rd base because that’s where his friend Michael was.  Their coach convinced Michael to throw it to 1st base but it only went as far Jessica who was doing a cartwheel at the time.  When she was done with the best cartwheel ever, she picked it up and rolled it past Brian on 2nd base who threw his glove at the ball then chased it and kicked it back to the outfield…you get the picture.  And although Garin had plenty of time to get to 1st base standing up, he decided to do a slide into the base which annoyed Julie who then started pushing Garin off the base because that’s where she was standing. Julie’s coach and I ran out for a quick explanation about having to share the bases and we finally got around to batter #2…whew!

Usually you play until each player on each side has hit 4 times but the other coach and I agreed that for the first game 3 innings was plenty and the mosquitoes were starting to bite.  Plus I had to get back to my bench to stop Adam from bonking the bat off the other kids heads to see how tough the helmets were.

And my husband thought I didn’t know enough about baseball to coach T-Ball!

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23 thoughts on “Spring – finally in New England

  1. Diane.. that is so funny.. Great writing. You are a riot. God, I hope you are feeling better.. Amazing what goes on across the street and we don’t even know it. This story was better than a recipe.

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  2. Diane, I’ve been laughing hysterically through this whole thing. You were so on target! I remember when we had four playing ball at one time… at one point it was two boys in Little League, different teams, one in T-Ball and a girl on the Cinderella team. Try to get them all to the right practice and games and remember to take hats, gloves and whatever else they needed. Now it’s on to my grandsons — one in his last year in T-Ball and one in Little League. T-Ball is a riot. In addition to everything you mentioned, they sit on the ground and play with the dirt or watch bugs, crash into each other when three or four run to catch a fly ball, and I can remember an occasional outfielder (boys) stopping to take a leak. Anyways, Diane, that was beautifully written. Thanks for the memories.

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    • Oh Kathleen I feel for you because I remember trying to juggle my practices for families with kids who all had to be in different places. You must think it’s a cinch now with the grandsons though. I wish that cell phones w/cameras and video were available back then because there are some pretty funny moments I’d love to see re-played. You cracked me up because I’d forgotten about how the little boys would just decide to water the field. I have to ask you – with all the kids and their “stuff” at the end of the season did you check with each coach for missing things? I always ended up with a box of everything from gloves to jackets to one shoe. Tell me – how does a kid go home with just one shoe? Wouldn’t you either go home with 2 shoes or barefoot & notice if one shoe was missing?

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      • Diane, I don’t think they ever lost anything at practice. Trouble is, they were always forgetting to take something to practice–gloves, bats, hats. Couldn’t play without hats–it was a rule. At the same time, schools told kids (and parents) no sharing of hats anytime because of lice. Got to practice one day for the oldest and he’d forgotten his hat. Coach wanted him to use another player’s hat. His father sided with him. I was furious, but lost that battle.

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      • Ah the old lice thing which is why I never really liked collecting all of these misc. items after practices. Sometimes though I wondered if the mothers just left their laundry for me to do looking for the freshly washed & folded clothes.

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  3. For some reason my person was laughing the whole time she read this. I’d sure like to be on one of those teams. I’d catch all the fly balls (and steal loves from all the kids in between).

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    • Bongo, you would love baseball in our town. I think we’re the only place in the country that doesn’t have a leash law so our fields have plenty of dogs racing around playing ball with everyone. They’re part of the team.

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  4. I am laughing so hard I can’t even read the page!!!!!!!!! You are killing me!! Did Lola ever attend those “games”? Seems she would be the best “player” on the field…at least she might actually be interested in the game…or the ball at least..hope you’re feeling better.

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    • All I can say is I was a LOT younger then. It was a little adjustment going from being mother to 1 girl to mother hen of 10. I had a different Berner then – that was Clancy and there was no way I could have handle that guy with 10 kids. Niki and I did take Lola once to play tennis … it didn’t go well.

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  5. A great post, Diane! When I worked in The Loop and lived along the Lake, I walked home through Lincoln Park a couple nights a week. On the way, I’d stop and watch the t-ballers play. I swear I watched that game you described. What a riot! It was the best way possible to end a work day. Then again, I wasn’t coaching the kids.
    Sorry you weren’t well and hope you’re feeling better now.

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    • John, every T-ball goes pretty much the same and the best part of it all is that it’s FREE entertainment. How can you beat that on a beautiful spring day. I loved working with the younger kids but it sure helped to get a co-coach for crowd control over on the bench.
      I’m slowly getting back on my feet but not yet on real food so I’ve got a lot of catching up to do on your blog to get some ideas for when I get my appetite back.

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  6. Thank you Diane. This post was a great stress buster and so very funny. You hit it right on with your little story. I think the parents get into the game more than the kids. The kids are very sweet as they really don’t get the basics of the game and that makes for one humous game. I am sorry to hear that you are feeling under the weather and wishing you a quick recovery.

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    • I always loved working with the little kids until they got older & hired agents – like around age 9 🙂
      I did have one problem with a mother who was a little mixed up on the concept of ‘coach’. The first game that got cancelled due to rain, my doorbell rang & there was a little boy whose mother had dropped him off (and taken off) because she had errands to run. No, she did not call me, just dropped the kid in my yard assuming that I’d signed up for that time slot each week to help her out…or something like that.

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  7. I hope you have fully recovered from that nasty bug by now, Diane. Can’t think of food when the tummy is rumbling. Posting about ball games and spring is a nice alternative. 😉

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  8. So sorry that you were ill and hope that you are better. This story was way better than a recipe. I can’t wait for my husband to read this…he used to coach T-ball.

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