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blue girl

Hi Lance -- I am having fun -- because I'm a goofy mom just proud of all these kids. I mean, when they smile after getting a hit -- my heart melts.

My husband however -- is having no fun. Notta. Zilcho. I feel bad for him -- nothing I can do though -- except never talk him into coaching again.

I could write a ton -- but, I'll just end it here with a huge pout -- as I read the words that we are the "league's doormat." :( :( :(

(Winning is not everything -- but darnit! It would be nice once in a while...a nice clean win)

Shakespeare's Sister

Mrs. Lyle Mannion's experience reminds me of another of my dad's baseball stories....

My dad was a great pitcher from a young age, and, like the rest of his 5 brothers, was six feet tall by the time he was 12, so he made for a pretty impressive figure on the Little League mound.

One game, a father from the opposing team shouted relentlessly each time my dad was pitching: "Get that big dumb kid off the field!!! He's can't be 12! How many times has he been left back in school! Get his big dumb butt off the field! Lousy so-and-so! Idiot kid!" On and on and on.

As my dad sauntered off the field after his team had roundly beaten their opposition, my grandfather, who was seated directly behind the blowhard, stood up and appluaded my dad. "Nice game, son," he said.

I bet the screaming dad watched his mouth in future, no baseball bat or other hitting implement required--just a whole lot of patience and a little class.


But I don't see the evidence of it. Whenever I pass by a field, if it's not being used by an obviously adult-organized and sponsored teams, it's empty.

That's something I've noticed too. Back in India, we couldn't wait for summer vacation to begin, we would be out at sunrise, play cricket till it got unbearably hot, go for lunch and rush back as soon as the heat went down a little. We did not have any fields with lighting so we had to go back once the sun went down.

We would play against teams from the neighboring streets and even organized a tournament once. As far as kids who couldn't play well or were downright bad , we always made sure they got their turn cos we would have to face the wrath of their parents the next day, if we did otherwise.

When I came here, there was a small baseball field but the only time I would see activity there was when school buses would be there or when some kind of tournament was taking place. That was very strange. In my two years there, I never saw kids playing on their own.

Infact the only ones who used the field regularly were International graduate students like me, who used to play soccer.

Exiled in NJ

Don't get me started on this. School is out; crabs are in. My SigOther's 15 year old grandson should have been here last weekend to get his traps in the water, but NO, HE HAS FOOTBALL CAMP...six weeks before real practice begins.

Ever check out Halloween today? My buddies and I loved going door to door after dark. One year we dragged around a small tree we'd cut down, pretending to be lumberjacks. Today the kids either come in the afternoon, accompanied by parents, so the adults can attend parties at night, or those who do come at night are accompanied by costumed adults.

Davis X. Machina

I nudged my kids, gently, in the direction of track and cross country. They seemed the least deranged of HS sports, and if you don't run glamor events like the (metric) mile, or the 100m dash, they're usually grateful to have you. Especially cross-country. Maybe because there aren't any real pro leagues...


I totally relate to the tball experience with your kid.

We started my son in tball when he was a tyke...and he loathed it. He's not an especially social creature and not very athletic. He didn't enjoy it at all. He stuck with it for a couple of years..mostly because my husband was helping to coach.

The last year that he played we signed up with what was, unbeknownst to us, an uber competitive league. My son was absolutely miserable. We were at the coach pitch level by this time. The (many) times he couldn't hit the ball or field the ball...there was an audible groan from the parents. We stuck it out to the end of the season (once you make a stick it through to the end) but it was not fun.

My daughter is a different story altogether. She started playing soccer five years ago. She's a southpaw and is one of the few truely left-footed players in the league. She's reasonably athletic and extremely social. She plays with an extremely competitive team. The parents are actually very good, for the most part. Every once in a while we run into some nasties...but our coach isn't afraid to go the the referee and request that the parent be asked to quiet down or exit the field.

Incidentally, my son did find a way to indulge his competitive streak without having to throw a ball...he's joined the debate team.

He's one of the best on the squad.


When I was a kid we bypassed the adult-BS factor by inventing a new game. See here.

Unlike Soccer, softball, etc. I was actually pretty good at it. Last summer when visiting the ancestral homes, I wandered over to the tennis court where the game was invented and used to be played. To my great amazement, a handful of teenagers were playing a pickup game--the game has been regularly played, apparently, for 15+ years, as we pass it on to our younger siblings and friends from generation to generation. They were initially skeptical of my status as a founder, but saw my practiced skill at leaping over the net while simultaneously lifting it and guiding the ball under it, all doubts regarding my bona fides were removed.

(Many of us tended to tell our parents we were playing "tennis" bc tennis-hockey was considered too violent. They probably knew something was up due to the almost nightly bloody shins and knuckles, hardly common tennis injuries.)

Kids don't need to organize a league--they just need a regular crew with enough for two teams, so that a game can be played. Perhaps I'm naive, but I have to believe this still goes on. I played tons of sports as a kid, but almost never in an organized league, and I sure didn't feel like I was missing out on anything. I'm not even 30 yet; has so much changed in the last decade?

Exiled in NJ

Grew up just before organized games became the only way. Do any kids still play half ball~~do they still make pimple balls~~wire ball, stick ball? We actually kept statistics for the latter. Johnny Martino, aka Hahnsy Baby, led our 'league' and broke the Babe's mark. And he had a wicked curve too. God that was fun!


Any of you Cambodian teens up for a little baseketball?

Tilli (Mojave Desert)

Do kids still play Kick the Can?

I played organized sports only once. Freshman dormitory team softball. Hah! Because my team didn't care and laughed at our spasticity (hey! mid-70s pot) we won every game. Drove the sorority girls crazy!


I have a favorite story I like to tell from time to time. It starts with a HS coach who is very well loved by all his athletes; hell even the student body themselves. He is a happy go lucky guy with one interest in mind. The kids... He starts a sports program at his high school, for no extra pay, and eventually gets one of his teams to the state championship and wins.
But, alas, he is also a social studies teacher who teaches his kids a little bit about thinking and this is not liked by those who know better. He is not asked to return for the new year and we are saddened.
What the hell is wrong with our society when a state champion coach is fired for his beliefs? We have one of two priorities here. Sports is crap and the classroom is sacrosanct to heeding the republic's call. Do you think this coach encouraged communistic attitudes during his stretch coaching, or was it just the classroom that brought out this mr. Hyde like bearing.

mac macgillicuddy

"My brother Luke was the Charlie Brown of our neighborhood. He wasn't very good, and the teams he put together weren't very good, but he had us all playing regularly all summer long."

This is not how it's recorded in the Sporting News, where I read that your brother was not a good hitter -- mainly because of amblyopia, which hampered his depth perception. He couldn't judge a ball coming in. But he could judge it going AWAY, and so he became a pitcher -- not a bad one, in fact, winning a number of games played by Mannion's MacGuffins.

As Yogi would say, "You can look it up!"

But that's not really my comment. My comment is just to say that the other day, my kids and I happened to be playing our version of baseball at the park, when along came a group of totally unsupervised kids between 9 and 12. They stood beside our backstop and waited patiently for us to give up the field so they could play -- that's right, a sand lot game! They even used "ghost men" to fill in for their lack of nine men on each side.

It was an unusual sight, to be sure, but just wanted to let you know it happened here.

You can't look that up, though, so you'll just have to believe me.

(By the way, we gave up the field to them and went to get ice cream.)


I never played organized sports (except a few college intramural things) and I think I am better off for it.

The main reason is that as kids we played what we wanted to. If there enough of us, or nearly enough, we'd play baseball, hockey or football depending on the season.

But if we didn't feel like that, or if there weren't enough kids around we'd do something else. And that something else was sometimes a game and sometimes things like building a go-cart.

The good that came of that is that I and my childhood have a wide variety of interests and consequently interesting lives. The rare kids we knew who were in organized sports seemed to be programmed and are now leading dull, predictable lives.

They also have no connections to sports other than screaming at their kids at Little League games. Friends of mine from the unorganized world still get together on occassion to play softball or to pitch a few innings if there are only a couple of us.

Oh, us disorganized are also not fat and immobile.



I'll have to apologize to Luke when I see him. I only played on the team until high school so I didn't witness his whole career. I don't remember him pitching though. I remember him as an infielder. I thought one of the Shorkey brothers pitched. Maybe Luke switched positions after I left.

As for the Charlie Brown comparison, I think that Charlie Brown must have actually been a pretty good pitcher. After all his team played all 9 innings of the games they lost 100 to nothing. That means that somehow they managed to get at least 24 outs every game. Since every ball that didn't get hit to Lucy or over the fence couldn't have gone to Snoopy, I figure Charlie Brown must have struck a lot of guys out---the ones who didn't drive line drives right through him---or caused them to hit weak grounders to whoever played third for them. Shermy, maybe?

mac macgillicuddy

Scorecards in the archives indicate that the Shorkeys did pitch. But that was before Luke read Don Drysdale's book and learned that pitchers aren't expected to be good hitters, because they spend all of their practice time focused on pitching -- which is as it should be. After Don Drysdale's book, he took up pitching. Think he got traded, too, and wound up pitching against the Shorkeys.

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