Long before I became a father, I had vowed that I would never allow myself to be roped into coaching kids’ sports. I guess because I’m a devoted sports fan and maybe because I appear to have the mentality of a preadolescent, people are always telling me that I should coach Little League.
To me, that’s just like volunteering to babysit for half the neighborhood a few times a week all summer.
But when we got to A.J.’s first t-ball practice on Sunday and learned that no one had offered to coach his team, I found myself trying to organize a bunch of six-year-olds. (I don’t know why I stepped forward. I guess just seeing so many little kids standing around doing nothing and waiting for some direction made me nervous.) So I had them pair off and play catch, rolled them some ground balls, and told them what position to play.
A.J. seemed okay with all of it. He was happy just to be wearing his uniform and playing on a real baseball field. I made sure he got to play a little shortstop, which is where he had been hoping to play. He took his position there, then turned to me and said, “Daddy, shortstop is the best position because so many balls get hit there.”
While he was saying this, someone hit a ball almost right at him and it rolled past him and into leftfield. I don’t think he was ever aware of it. He looked really good in his uniform, though.
The kids were a lot of fun. They were goofy and easily distracted and their noses ran like faucets—basic six-year-olds, in other words—but no problem, really.
They had a lot of questions for me:
“Is it true that we’re getting trophies?” (Maybe at the end of the season.)
“Can I go to the bathroom?” (Yes.)
“Can I ask my mom for some water?” (Wait until this inning’s over.)
“How come that kid can’t hit?” (Uh….)
There was one kid who looked a little panicked, like he had no idea what he was supposed to do or where he was supposed to go. He was playing first base, so I tried to explain his job to him and told him he looked a like a real pro out there and gave him a few high-fives. When I was through with all that, he still looked as panicked as ever.
He got through the practice though, and so did A.J. and so did I.