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.


Julie Tegeder said...

Great post!

Molly M said...

That was so much fun! See, if Jim Abott can pitch in the majors with a bum arm, whose to say Noah cant bat in little league with a bum arm?