Saturday, April 24, 2010

Take Me Out to the (T) Ball Game

Back in 1951, Bill Veeck, the owner of the St. Louis Browns (now the Baltimore Orioles) had planned a publicity stunt as part of a double-header baseball event. They were able to keep it under wraps, until the leadoff batter for the Browns in the second game was 3'6" Eddie Gaedel. His talent wasn't being a baseball player; it was being short. The number on his uniform was 1/8. As anticipated by Veeck, four pitches later it was ball four and Eddie went to first base. Then the regular lead-off hitter game into the game as a pinch runner and Eddie's major league career was over. But that even may inspired our present day gather of players under four feet tall: T-Ball! Here'a a report of Noah's game last week.

It had been cloudy but dry all day, until about twenty minutes before it was time to go to the game. A slight drizzle began, but the game went on. Andy is the coach for the feared Northeast Little League T-Ball Mariners! Here's Andy running the Mariners in a pre-game drill.

Here's Noah, giving real meaning to the term "warm-up" for a game. You can just see his blue cast peeking out of his right sleeve. The cast run up to halfway between his shoulder and elbow. Andy worked with him on throwing left handed, but when it was time to play he wanted to have his glove on, so he holds the ball in his fingers and kinds of spins his body to throw the ball.

As a student of the game, I had to assess the opponents. I recognized that I might have to leave the game early in the chance that my grandson would be put out by a fielder using a pink glove. That would be too embarrassing to the family honor!

Here's Andy and his assistant coach giving a motivational speech to the Mariners. You can tell that Andy is a master motivator since at least one of the players is actually looking at him.

Since the ball is hit off a tee and there is no pitcher, they don't need to play on a field with a backstop. Conversely, there is no dugout. So, for the bench, the players each bring a 5-gallon bucket with a lid to sit on. It's a good system since when they are in the dugout they wear their helmet and stow their glove in the bucket. When they take the field they store their helmet in the bucket. The buckets are arranged in their batting order, which makes it easy to see where we are in the batting order as well.

The lead-off batter hit the ball and made a mad dash...for third base! With some expert base coaching she was able to turn around and run to first, but the ball beat her to the bag. Except that the first baseman pulled her foot. Andy didn't argue, probably saving his Lasorda/Pinella explosion for later in the game.

Here's Noah at the plate, batting clean-up. Since he only has one free hand, he puts the bat on his right shoulder, and then whips it around with his left hand. Swung on, and belted up the middle, and ...

He's on! Here first base coach/father reminds him of the important things to remember in running the bases in T-Ball: Remember to tag up. Break up the double play with a hard slide. When you get to second base, turn left, not right. Don't kiss the third basegirl. So many things to remember!

And after a few more batters, he scores! In T-Ball, the tee also serves as the home plate.

I notice a few of the fielders were in this ready-to-field position, like this first baseman. If a ball were ever hit that far in the air, I doubt the glove would be much use.

Now the rain is really coming down.
One of the more sophisticated plays of the day was the decoy play, where a field trys to decoy the runner into thinking the fielder isn't in the play, and then quickly catches a throw and tags the runner out. The 3rd baseman had his back completely turned to the play and ball. He carried the decoy a little too far as the throw went past him out of bounds since he never turned around!

Who needs a fancy indoor professional stadium when you have an umbrella and/or a full rain suit.

Once the first inning was over and everyone had a chance to bat, the coaches conferred and decided to call the game.

The post-game shake-hands line forms. Everybody's a winner!

Wait a minute! Only one inning!? Noah isn't going to bat any more!? Summer is not happy.

Every game the coaches award a signed game ball to the player of the day. Today's awardee: Noah Tegeder! His line for the day 1-1, 1 run scored, no errors.

Following the game and post game festivities, one of the most important events of game day takes place - the awarding of the post-game treats.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Evolution of a Clean Shaven Man

At my wife Wendy's recommendation, I tried out for a part in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." I got the part of Peter Quince, the leader of a group of trade workers who banded together to put on a play for the Duke and the Dutchess of Athens for a wedding celebration. As described in the script, we were considered "...hard-handed man that work in Athens here, which never labored in their minds until now (i.e. the day of the play.)" As we began practice, I decided that an Athenian carpenter in the 16th century would probably have a beard, so I commenced to give my character one for our play. I had only attempted a beard once, back in 1990 when Wendy was gone on a three week trip to England and the Holy Land, a trip she took with her parents and brother Tim. I greeted her at the airport with a three week growth. We took a few pictures, and that was that. Until 2009, that is. I set out to grow the beard about nine weeks before the play. Then, with an idea I got from son Andy, I took it off in stages, and this blog post chronciles it.

As I began my beard adventure, it was also at this same
time I began in a fantasy football league at work. The
website allows for a photo of the team owner, so, as
owner of "Robert's Beefy Boyz," I took my football
picture. You wouldn't want to mess with the Beefy
Boyz, now would you? After all, Peyton Manning
was my quarterback.

Finally the third week of October rolled around, and
my beard got to perform right along with me as
Peter Quince, Athenian Carpenter, and the leader
of some hard-handed men.

When one has a beard, you always have to wonder,
"Am I wearing anything that I just ate?"

Where do you begin to remove a beard? I started by just giving
myself long 70's style sideburns and an untrimmed goatee. I call
this my trucker look.

Now, the sideburns and goatee are trimmed. I call this
my high-school music teacher look.

The next step in my beard de-evolution
was to shave off the beard, leaving a
fu-manchu and a small "soul patch"
just under my lower lip. I was told
it gave me that "Yosemite Sam" look
What in tarnation were they thinking?

I thought perhaps it gave me more of
an outdoors look, like a horse trail

But, others said the fu-manchu gave me that biker
look. Yeah! "Let's ride"

Next stop was to get rid of the soul patch and the
fu-manchu handlebars, moving to a moustache
you just might see on an accountant in 2009.
So, the next step is to just cut it off, right?
Well, not quite.....

With a few more strokes of the razor, (and a little enhancements
to darken the moustache and eyebrows, the look moves from
a modern-day accountant in 2009 to the silent movies of the
"twenties" - a Charlie Chaplin look. (Or, considering my girth,
some would say it;s more like Oliver Hardy of the 1930's)
anyway, this was the Charlie Chaplin looks, which was stolen

and obliterated by a famous figure of the 1940's......

you know who - Now, get me to that razor!

And now, here I am, in 2010, clean shaven
and not ready to abandon the razor any time

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Christmas Presents for Kids

One of the fun things about having grandchildren is that when Christmas rolls around the prospective present population expands greatly. Your kids reach their teen and college years, and the present population becomes more narrow - more geared towards clothes, and things that are more expensive. The toy section becomes just another department nearby the sporting goods at the store. Then a grandchild shows up and the purchasing area becomes a huge landscape ready to be explored. In the more mature years, there's a little more cash in the wallet for that toy you think looks cool, especially one that didn't exist when you were a kid.

Which leads me to my sister Jane. Her first grandchild is on the way. Her youngest daughter Hayley is in high school and isn't interested in the toy aisle at the store. But, Jane has a nephew with a son, Noah (my grandson)is who is five, and she bought him a remote control stunt car. Noah has figured out how to make the car spin...and spin...and spin. Let's just say serenity is not the first feeling that comes to mind when Noah is operating his car, as the video shows. And, as mom Julie said, during the din, "Thanks Aunt Jane."