Monday, September 13, 2010

Character Building

As if my tens of readers haven't had enough of baseball, Fall Ball officially began this week. My son Will doesn't typically play Fall Ball but this year is different. This year he was scouted. He's twelve by the way.

I won't go into the particulars mainly because I'm afraid they'll take it out on my son. He was scouted by a club team all summer for, I think, being a big hitter. Turns out his hitting is off right now, probably the result of taking time away from baseball to do things like swim and learn to surf. "Blasphemy." they said, in little league inner circles. You can't learn anything about baseball from swimming.

Well maybe that was the point.

They don't like that on this new team. Because why? Because when his hitting is off, he's of no use to this team. Because you can't make it to the Show if your hitting is off. Oh wait, there is no Show when you're twelve. I forgot.

And so did they.

His coaches that is. They forgot. Let me repeat that. There is no going to the Show when you're twelve. There's also no going to the Show when you're 40 and coaching twelve-year olds. There is however, an opportunity to encourage and teach a love of the game.

The August issue of Esquire featured a "What I've Learned" interview with Larry King. In that interview he said, "Hockey I can teach you in a day. Basketball is basically an understandable game. But it's impossible to teach baseball to an adult — too many nuances."

My son was defeated this weekend after striking out multiple times and then being benched for most of the next game. I made him go running with me, do laundry with me, make his bed and other chores that are inevitable as we get older. I told him, "If nothing else, baseball should be fun. Baseball is a game. Work is a chore."

When they start the game, they don’t yell, “Work ball.” They say, “Play ball.”

NB: Dear Coaches on Will's new team. Take a look at this photo. This is Will hitting yet another homer. I wouldn't count him out.


  1. Will, Hang in there. And have fun, which can be hard when everyone is telling you do do it. This sounds like a big transition season for you, so give the new team and coaches some time before you get down on the whole sport. If you get a chance, go watch some of the younger kids play, like the 7 and 8 year olds to remind you of how much fun it can be. And will be again for you.

    My daughter, who just started 9th grade, is getting serious now about softball. I will admit that I am one of those parents that MIGHT be a little obnoxious about softball and baseball. But yesterday I got to umpire a game of 4th and 5th grade girls who are really just learning the game. They reminded me that it is a game to be played for fun with your friends.

  2. I wouldn't blame his summer of being a kid on those strike outs. More likely its the coaches that are putting that tremendous pressure on him to perform like a professional athlete rather than a kid PLAYING baseball. Just like everywhere else, there's good coaches, and then, well...

    Livin' with Glory Days Swim Coaches and a Few Psycho Debbie Phelps Type Parents in MA,

  3. Beck - Your thoughtful post rang true with me. Our son Will had the same experience. He was a phenom shortstop and in the meat of the batting order. When his bat went cold toward the end of the season he got benched. No amount of encouragement could get him back on the field the next season. To this day he regrets quitting. I hope your Will toughs it out. There are ups and downs in baseball, as in life. This is just one of those lessons to learn from. No doubt it's hard for a 12 year old to look ahead, but as they say, there's always next year . . . and many years after. Good luck.