Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cleats For T-Ball!

My wonderful next door neighbor will be celebrating his fifth birthday at the beginning of March.

Today was his first day of T-Ball practice.

Apparently he needs to have his parents buy shoes with cleats for his upcoming season.

During my one season with Eastview Little League back in 1964, the minor league players got hats and Tee shirts with the team's name on the front. That was it!

When a minor league player came to practice or play in real games, they wore tennis shoes, whatever pants they happened to have on at the time and their Tee Shirts, caps and gloves.

In 1964, the Little League didn't have T-Ball available, so we all had to start by having other minor league pitchers throw baseballs at us, towards us, or in the vicinity of home plate.

My actual on base percentage was fairly high because I usually didn't appear on the field until the later innings, got fewer chances at the plate, and got on base by receiving a ball four count or getting hit by the pitched ball.

But T-Ball seems to eliminate the tears, screams, aches, and pains of being hit by a youngster's pitched ball and that is quite wonderful. But cleats?

Maybe starting off one's hardball career doesn't really need to be so equipment heavy.

Having the opportunity to approach a ball that one has a very good chance of having a bat strike the ball is a really good thing for younger players.

Being able to run as fast as one can towards first base is also a great learning and fun thing to do, even if you run towards the left and third base by mistake.

I hope gender plays no role in who can play T-Ball or other forms of Little League baseball and when everyone plays, everyone wins.

It's just that cleats on very young players seems to be too much to consider when thinking about their enjoyment of the sport and how they can learn to run with cleats on and easily run with joy in shoes without cleats.

In 2009, it also may be a good idea to forgo the concept of having parents pay for extra shoes or temporary cleats because of our country's economic condition.

I think there may be players who want cleats but their parents might not be able to afford that luxury during this and the next couple of years, especially with T-Ball players.

Maybe the league my young neighbor plays in will have donations taken for players who's parents cannot afford extra money for cleats or gloves or other uniform pieces and equipment.

I am very happy to see even five-year olds enjoying participating in organized sports, entertainment, and educational activities and I support all of those activities that welcome everyone.

But cleats in T-Ball? Maybe that is stepping out a little too far.

As far as my neighbor goes, Terri and I are looking forward to his first season, cleats or no cleats.

His grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and the multitudes of San Pedrans who know him and his family will be rooting on the little fellow to have the most fun and best enjoyment as he begins his baseball career.

Smack one out of the park, Kyle. And howl with delight when you do it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cleats and tee ball....yes! Sir, you are out of touch.