PARENTS ROOTING FOR THE HOME TEAM
By Elizabeth Foss
I trust in God.
I love my country
and will respect its laws.
I will play fair
and strive to win.
But win or lose,
I will always do my best.
-- The Little League Pledge
I've almost finished my first season as a Little League mom and I'm
glad to report that all is right with the world. At least, all is
right with the small corner of the world that is home to the Central
Springfield Little League.
There are freckled-faced boys and girls lined up to say the Little
League pledge before every game. In these days of political
correctness, the pledge seems antiquated. But it never fails to bring
shivers to my spine and I think that the children mean what they say.
If this tee-ball team represents the children to whom we are
entrusting the world, it is going to be in good hands. Let me tell
you something about a few of them.
First up is Gregory, who hits one over the fence with surprising
frequency. He is a gifted athlete, to be sure, but he is also
disciplined and very determined. He understands "striving to win" and
gives everything he has to every single play. If he applies the same
principles to the rest of his life, he will do well indeed.
There are Justin and James, who are smaller than most of the other
kids, but make up for it with a combination of strength, speed and
determination. They keep their heads in the game and "always do their
best." I watched Justin look with amazement into his glove to
discover that a truly great catch nestled there. From what I
understand, James also brings a great sense of humor to his team, a
contribution for which the players are very grateful.
Andrew seems to understand "win or lose." A strong, skillful player,
he accepts constructive criticism with grace and gratitude far beyond
his years. A nod and smile to his coaches and he buckles down once
more. His positive attitude paid off when he bounced one over the
fence. I'm not sure who grinned more proudly, Andrew or his dad.
Watching Andrew's dad, I finally understood the phrase "bursting with
Then there is Emily. Emily wears ruffled anklets instead of baseball
socks, "because they're my favorites." For the first few games, she
tentatively hit the ball and...watched it. Every parent in the
bleachers learned to shout "Hit it and run, Emily. Hit it and run!"
Now she runs; though she is still nonchalant about the game. I asked
her whether she was having fun and she said, "It's okay but I'd
rather hit a pitched ball. This is too easy." Ah, a non- conformist
who likes a challenge. That's good, because life will present
And there is Michael (my personal favorite). He holds his glove up in
front of his chest and squats behind home plate every single time the
umpire says "play ball!" This wouldn't be terribly noteworthy, except
that this is tee-ball, no one is going to pitch the ball to the
catcher. Pages from his prayer journal (yes, I peeked) tell me that
he "trusts in God." They say things like, "Thanks for a great game"
and "Dear Lord, Please help me to hit one over the right field
In his enthusiasm and love for the game, Michael is determined to do
everything just right. His serious intensity combined with
six-year-old exuberance make the grown-ups smile.
These kids and their teammates are coached by a group of fathers who
have taken countless hours out of the spring to make sure that their
children learn something about baseball and everything about
dedication. If suburban Washington is inhabited only by workaholics
who drop their children off at day care for long twelve-hour days,
nobody told that to these dads.
The team is managed by Joey Jones, a downtown accountant who must
have been sorely challenged by three practices or games a week during
the first two weeks in April--tax season. His son Gregory clearly
sees where Joey's priorities are. If Gregory has baseball; Dad is
At every game, there is a mom in the dugout. With cheerful patience,
Debbie snaps and unsnaps batting helmets, fills water bottles, and on
occasion, convinces the coach to stop play because she notices that a
center fielder needs to go to the bathroom. Behind her sit mothers
and fathers who sell candy, bake cookies, line fields, pick up trash,
and make banners so that their children have the opportunity to play
and they have the blessed privilege of spending sunny Saturdays
sitting in the bleachers rooting for the home team.
Foss is a freelance writer living in Springfield.
This article appeared in the June 16, 1995 issue of "The Arlington
Courtesy of the "Arlington Catholic Herald" diocesan newspaper of the
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