It’s never too early in the season to get in a few swings and, apparently, never too cold either. I’m not sure what the kids enjoy more: my wheel-house pitching or drilling line drives at my head.
Either way, the second I step foot into the backyard, they beg me to play baseball with them, and by that I mean they want me to toss the ball, watch them smack it into the neighbors yard, and then listen to them replay the big hit to friends and siblings.
All while they give me helpful pitching tips.
I’ll kick the soccer ball around the yard with them, although I didn’t play much as a young boy and have little to teach them. They are still young for basketball, but they enjoy dribbling the ball up and down the street. My son only recently discovered football, and I’ve been teaching him how to throw a spiral. I’m a poor instructor when it comes to tossing a gorgeous spiral like my father and brother can throw. Mine looks more like a lame duck. Maybe by the time my son’s hands grow to where he can grip a football, I’ll have mastered the art of the spiral. But probably not.
But baseball is different. Even the smallest child can pick up a bat and swing it, piñata-style, at someone . Each child has a unique swing. Luca’s quick wrists allow her to pull the ball into the sliding glass door. Lincoln uses the bat like a fly swatter while Anna looks like she’s chopping wood.
Only my three-year old son has a natural swing. Hand him a bat and he’ll shift his weight to his back foot, rest the bat on his shoulder and aim his chin right at me. I like to humor myself by imaging that I passed on the Rod Carew swing gene to him, but I know it’s not true.
I was thrilled to see Anna Lynn join us on this cold afternoon. She normally shags balls hit by her sister and brother. But today she grabbed the bat and took a few practice swings. The first couple of pitches sailed right past as she swung and missed.
“You’ll get it”, I told her.
“I know that”, she shot back.
She fouled one off the fence before smacking the ball across the yard and nearly into the neighbors yard. The ball had gone further than anything hit by her older brother or sister, and she knew it.
Anna put the bat down, and put her hand out as she walked past me, and into position to shag balls.
It’s never a bad idea to step away on a high note. And it never hurts to high-five the guy throwing BP.