The life rules you learn in little league baseball
June 3, 2013
I am stuck on a beginning of summer theme for a few days, so my thoughts have turned to those days when we used to play little league baseball for six weeks from the first of June until mid-July.
The way the sport was organized in my home town, kids ages 10-12 played on a team together. There were four teams in two “leagues,” the National and the American (which mirrored the leagues in professional baseball in the United States).
The teams in the two leagues only played teams in their own league, i.e., there wasn’t a World Series.
All the games were played on the same field in doubleheaders, so that on game night there was one game between two National League teams and one between two American League teams.
This meant that we could heckle the players in the other league without fear of retaliation, which we did with impunity.
I learned a lot of life lessons in little league.
In no particular order, here are a few of them.
1. If you don’t come to practice, you don’t play in the game. (The no excuses rule)
2. If you were ten years old, the older players saw it as their mission to taunt and demoralize you. You could give into it, or bow up and show them what you were made of. (The it’s not the size of the dog in the fight rule.)
3. It was best to make an error only when it didn’t matter. (When they slap you on the back and say it’s all right, they’re lying. This is the I didn’t really mean it when I said that rule.)
4. You can’t make another player catch a ball even if you hit him in the hands with it. (The skill matters rule).
5. If you were a base runner approaching home base and the catcher already had the ball in his glove, you could lower your head and attempt to kill the catcher in hopes that you would dislodge the ball and not be called out. (The all’s fair in love and war rule in its purest form.)
6. If you hit a home run, you can lope around the bases and enjoy those few fleeting moments of ecstasy. (The you never know when something like this may happen again rule.)
7. If a player in your dugout uses a word you’ve never heard before, you should not repeat it at home. (The what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas rule.)
8. It’s all about winning. (The good sportsmanship is overrated rule)
9. If you hit home runs your first four times at bat in the season and then walk your fifth time at bat, you shouldn’t throw your bat down in disgust. (I saw this happen. This is the how much is enough rule.)
10. If you coach little league baseball, it’s okay to have a couple of beers in your truck on the way to practice. (The what the hell rule.)
Ah, to be young again.