Baseball is more than a game

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baseball

“Let every home run bring celebration, and every strike-out the opportunity to improve.”

— Anonymous

The past few months have revolved around baseball, and we’ve loved every minute of it. Our high school team went all the way to the state semi-final in Division IV, Hillsdale falling short to Fort Recovery on a beautiful day for baseball in Akron. The final score was 3-1.

What remains in this small rural community after such a spectacular run is an enduring sense of pride. There is no way to measure the impact this respectful team of boys has left on the younger kids who loved cheering them on.

Our 7-year-old grandson speaks the names of the high school athletes with a spark of reverence, and he carries it to his own games in the 8-and-under boys league in our local ballparks. Brooks spends time practicing at home, not only hitting and fielding, but pitching, too, and it shows.

Last year’s simple T-ball play seems far in the distance as we watch this team of classmates and friends, ages 6 to 8, gather to play in a much more competitive version of the game. My nephew’s son, Evan, is one impressive pitcher on the team, throwing with surprising accuracy and velocity.

I look at the small boys stepping up to the plate and wonder how anyone, adult or child, could find the strike zone. In an earlier game, Brooks closed out the game pitching, striking out the final six batters on only 24 pitches.

It’s been great to see this young team playing well defensively while cheering each other on. Brooks fielded a grounder and ran for the out at first base, later making a great catch of a hard-hit line drive. One night his hitting might be off, and the next game it seems he can’t miss, sending a ball far into center field for a homerun, followed by a triple and later a double. We cheer with great enthusiasm for each member of the team, a feeling of joy overflowing when good things happen.

There is no doubt that sports can teach so much from teamwork to self-confidence. Some say it puts too much pressure on young children, asking them to pitch, field and hit. Watching the development of skills from last summer, in addition to the improvement in these three short months, it is hard to argue against participation.

This year, our 5-year-old grandson is being coached at T-ball by his dad, our son. Our 5-year-old granddaughter is being coached by her dad, our son-in-law, who is also coaching the 8 and under boys.

There is no doubt all the ballpark volunteers deserve high praise for their time, work and patience. Nights and weekends at the ballpark have become our favorite place to be, cheering on the fun.

One great quote I read in the run up to the state semi-final has stayed with me: “Baseball isn’t just a game. It’s a life’s work in building character.”

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