Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams June 7, 2006

I’ve been watching quite a bit of Little League baseball recently because certain individuals in my household participate (not me).

So, anyway, I find it part of my family responsibilities to sit in a folding chair at the baseball field and cheer on two Takoma Park Little League teams. I have to tell you: somehow this is not exactly what I imagined being a cheerleader might be like, but I guess better late than never, right?

In addition to watching kids learn to play ball, cheering on my sons (did I mention my eldest is quite a promising pitcher? My genetic contribution, in case there was any doubt . . .), some of the most curious things I’ve observed on the field these past weeks . . . are the fathers.

You know those guys in high school who were kind of nerdy, could never saunter in a cool way down the hall and usually belonged to the Chess Team? Have you ever wondered where those nerdy guys who could never make the football team ended up?

I found them.

They’re here, on the Little League field, wearing T-shirts that read COACH, authoritatively wielding clipboards and making solemn pronouncements about the Infield Fly Rule. They’re generally encouraging but sometimes rather gruff (just like you’d imagine a coach to be, I’m assuming). They regularly sling around sporty jargon like, “Good cut!” or “Watch your stance!” . . . as if normal people talk in this manner.

Stolen bases and possible violations of league rules become matters of life and death to these baseball-cap-wearing middle-aged men, and I have to admit I’ve worked rather diligently to stifle a few giggles and a couple of outright bursts of laughter as I’ve cheered from the sidelines.

We all know, of course, that these fathers are living the dream vicariously through their 4-foot-11-inch offspring, but there’s something rather amusing and even a little endearing about those Dads.

Yes, I’ve noticed that all those guys who loped down the hall with utter grace and dated the cheerleaders (not the ones in folding chairs; the ones in short skirts) are generally not the guys out there offering pointers on fielding and barking authoritatively about RBIs. Nope, it’s the sport hero wannabes who are living the dream on the Little League Field.

I have to applaud them; after all, if they didn’t approach the job with such vigor and commitment, well, then, who would be there week after week planting the seeds of dreams in the twinkling eyes of all those little baseball players, most of whom will have long and successful careers on the Chess Team?

And then grow up to authoritatively wield their own clipboards and make solemn pronouncements about the Infield Fly Rule to the next generation?

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