As high school athletes disperse to pursue their passion in different places – from travel teams to summer camps – my attention will shift for about a fleeting month to one of my favorite sports: Little League Baseball. .
Little League is perhaps the purest of all the sporting activities that I have the privilege to observe each year. From T-Ball to Major League, the enthusiasm and innocence of players is contagious. Almost all coaches in all sports, up to high school, urge their players to “have fun”. Most of the Little Leaguers are really having fun.
For most of the Little Leaguers in the area, their season is already over. Only the best are still playing. First of all, there is the Tournament of Champions which is being played this week in different venues, most of them in Petaluma, with the champion teams of all the leagues in District 35. Then the real competition starts with the All-Star game. .
I’m not going to explain how a player becomes an All-Star. There is no easy way to select a star team and unfortunately there is too often controversy. Let’s move quickly to the teams entering the field and let someone else figure out how they got there.
The All-Star competition is basically held over three age levels 10 and under, 11 and under and Major League for 12 and under. Only the oldest group has a chance of reaching the ultimate in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. Only one Petaluma team has ever climbed this high. It is a long and arduous road.
No matter how far our All-Star teams progress, it will be a special experience for them. Every game will be important and every game will see its best efforts. I wish every child could have the All-Star experience, but if it were true, it wouldn’t be special.
I love the T-Ball and the cute antics of the kids who are just starting to understand the concept of hitting, throwing, catching and running the basics, but it’s also fun to see how fast kids who really love the game Are growing.
One of the nicest All-Star age groups for me is the 10 and under. Every summer I am amazed at how well these very young athletes play the game. It is amazing how they approach the plate and how quickly they understand things like cut plays and forced outs.
By the time they hit the 12-year-old age group, they’re really playing great baseball. Yet they are young, with all the high and low emotions that come with being between the ages of childhood and adolescence.
Little League baseball is also a family affair. Parents are definitely invested in their kids playing baseball and the games are often a social event with family ties as their teams move up the playoff ladder. Long-standing friendships have been formed in the stands of Little League.
The concept of the wild-eyed howling Little League parent is pretty much an urban legend. Granted, there are parents of both sexes who take the game far too seriously and are quick to blame everyone from the referee to the manager for guessing their son’s or team’s misguidedness.
Fortunately, they are in the minority. Most parents adhere to the basic principle of “let the kids play and have fun”. It’s great to win. It hurts to lose. After six rounds, the fun is in the game.
What Little League baseball is about the love of the game.
(Contact John Jackson at [email protected])