I played little league baseball from pre-Kindergarten up until 6th grade. I say pre-Kindergarten because my brother started tee ball in Kindergarten, and because I wanted to do everything he did, the coaches let me start a year early. I was on the Claridon Eagles and then moved up to the Claridon Cardinals playing 2nd base and right field. Was I good? Let’s just say I made a wise choice running track and cross-country when I got into 7th grade. But that’s neither here nor there.
When I played ball we had the best fields money could buy. Unfortunately, there was no money, so we mostly played on fields where the dirt had some random grass patches making it a tiny obstacle course if you hit anything more than a single. Our coaches were fathers of other players on the team who were gracious enough to donate their time for a season. If we won a game, we headed up to the local Huntsburg Dari Whip for a Sno-Cone, which the coaches paid for. Even if we lost a game, we would still get a Sno-Cone so it was win-win. The comedian, Brian Regan, put it perfectly when he said he played just for the grape Sno-Cone, because win or lose, he got his favorite Sno-Cone, which was grape…but sometimes he went with his equally favorite, cherry. Needless to say, we didn’t have much back then except baseball and the old Dari-Whip.
I would suspect that’s how most little league teams have it. You rough it and you enjoy every minute of it and all the while, you dream of making it to the big leagues one day. Sometimes you get so lucky that you and your team get to come to a Cleveland Indians game and even better…get to watch the Indians take batting practice. Thanks to Major League Baseball and the Cleveland Indians, one team got to do just that!
Members of the Monarchs youth baseball team were set up with tickets and an Indians batting practice viewing the other day. Unfortunately, batting practice was cancelled, but that didn’t stop Indians pitchers from putting on a show for the Monarchs. Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin, Tony Sipp and Joe Smith swung over to meet the team and, without warning, told all the kids to get on the field and start sprinting across the outfield. The kids, with excited and shocked looks on their faces, did as they were toldand the Indians pitchers sprinted across the field with them.
Once warmed up, Masterson had the kids line up by the batter’s box and pretend to swing a bat at one of his ghost pitches. Each kid got a swing in and then were told to run the bases right after. I’m going out on a limb here and saying that our grounds crew wasn’t too excited to have to re-rake the field, but it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that no one could argue against!
Masterson, Smith, Tomlin and Sipp got the team together for a group photo and then invited them into the dugout for a couple of autographs. It was a spur of the moment activity that will stay with these kids forever. Now when they go back to their own sandlots, out playing in right field and their mind starts to wander, the vision of one day becoming a major league baseball player will be a little more clear to them. Although, I’m sure the thought of a grape Sno-Cone will still be at the top of their mind!