Last night was a slow teaching night in my adult education class. We are nearing the end of our school year, which means that many students have already completed their coursework and as a natural result we have fewer attending, and those attending are at points where we can't do much for them. They're taking final exams and such, or doing their final lessons in preparation for the upcoming GED test as the case may be. There simply aren't the demands on an instructor's time as is the case the rest of our academic year. Consequently, it was pretty easy for my attention to drift. Especially as there was a group of T-ball players practicing outside my classroom window.
As I am far too sentimental for my own good, it was all too easy to mosey over to the window and check out the action. Action? Six-year-olds coming nowhere near to catching a pop-up or fielding a grounder, or, later, powerfully swinging a bat at a ball sitting stationary on a tee, missing mightily none the less yet looking majestic all the while. Too many adults, parents mostly, I'm sure, mixed in with the coaches, all properly encouraging the youngsters as they should. I could not help but smile.
It has been twenty one years - twenty one years! - since I was first in that position. We put our oldest in the T-ball league at Wish Egan Field (named after the old Detroit sportswriter) in northeast Detroit in 1988. I still see Chuck's first at-bat: a dribbler off the tee. He raced down the first base line, made it safely, then turned about frantically until he saw me and gave me a thumbs up as a huge grin ran across his little blond face.
Frank in his California Angels cap in his first T-ball league at Patton Park in the southwest side... Abby as a Philadelphia Phillie in the St. Thomas Aquinas league a few years later...Chuck with the game winning two run single he lined to left with the bases loaded when he was a Chicago Cub (that team was the undefeated league champion I'll proudly say)...Frank pumping his first as he rounded second base during a kids run the bases event at Tiger Stadium after a 1992 game at the old ballyard...Abby fouling off I believe 7 straight pitches against the fence in front of her own teams' bench at Porath Field, scattering her teammates as each foul ball struck the protective fence...so many memories streaming to the front of my mind that I would bore you to tears if I recited them all, if I haven't already. Good times, though.
Hey: the kid in the green t-shirt just made a neat little catch. There's hope for the next generation of baseball after all.
I hope they're practicing Thursday night too.