Friday, May 15, 2015

Life Lessons Learned in Little League Baseball

Baseball Card
The Favorite Son’s little league baseball team, (the Cardinals, ironically), played a game in a nearby town. After the game, which we lost 14 – 12 on a walk-off grand slam, The Favorite Son said to me, “Dad, the umpire was biased for the other team.”

Having coached The Favorite Son’s since tee-ball, I enjoy watching a kid get his first hit, snow cone a pop-up, or score a run. After working a walk by fouling off a couple of pitches and then stealing second, one of the first year players on this year’s team asked me between innings, “How long have you been coaching?” I’m not sure if that was a dig or a compliment. I laughed, in any case.

Coaching The Favorite Son’s baseball team is not only a great way to spend time together, but baseball also provides some really great teachable moments and valuable, natural lessons.

Runners left on base: It’s a long season, but it doesn’t last forever. Make the most of your chances.

Practices: No matter how good you are, practice improves skills. Never stop learning.

Playing your position: To be successful, sometimes you have work as part of a team.

The Express Tee-Ballers;
TFS second from right.
At bat: To be successful, sometimes you have to stand alone.

The score: Whether you win or lose, you’ll (almost always) have a chance to do it again tomorrow.

Swinging the bat: You’ll get exactly zero hits if you don’t take your cuts.

Sacrifice bunts: Sometimes, you have to give up your own interests to benefit the greater good.

It’s a game of inches: The margin between winning and losing is very small. That’s just the way it is.

Hit by pitch: Sometimes, life knocks you down. When it does, you need to get up, dust yourself off, and get moving down the line.

Curveball: Don’t be surprised when life throw you a curve, because it will. Learn how to hit it.

Home runs: Big successes don’t happen very often. Relish them when they do, but it’s the many little successes that win games.

Triple plays, hitting for the cycle, and George Brett's “Pine Tar” incident: Occasionally, you’ll see something that doesn’t happen very often or has never happened. Enjoy the show.

.  .  . and, for The Favorite Son after giving up a four run lead and enduring the umpire's questionable calls when we played a “road” game in the next town,

Home team bias: Sometimes, when you’re away from home, you won’t get a fair shake. You still have respect the umpire. You still have to play the game. Sometimes, you’re the home team.

Warwick Little League (Minors) Cardinals
As former St. Louis Cardinals’ third baseman and longtime KMOX radio play-by-play announcer Mike Shannon often says, “Old Abner’s done it again,” referring Abner Doubleday who is credited with creating the game of baseball.  Baseball really is a metaphor for life and the game provides ample opportunity to give young people, and old, the chance to learn those lessons. I'm glad it's something I can do and share with The Favorite Son.

Play ball.