Monday, June 11, 2012

Play Ball

I’ve decided it’s time to teach my oldest son how to play baseball. It’s not that I have delusions that he’ll someday turn out to be a highly paid professional ballplayer and buy me a beach house (although I wouldn’t turn down the offer). Rather, I think young boys should know how to handle themselves around a baseball bat and be aware that a slider isn’t just the name of a disgusting sandwich from White Castle.

Now, when I was growing up, my brothers and any neighborhood kids we could rope in played ball in what you might call a nonstandard field. It sloped uphill, with a large pine tree between second and third base, a boat parked in center field, and a steep ravine behind home plate. Game stoppages to chase wild pitches through patches of poison ivy were common. We also had a few special rules to make up for the fact that we usually couldn’t scare up more than eight players at a time. If you’ve never heard of pitcher’s hand out, opposite field out, and ghost runners, you’ve lived an overly sheltered life.

The first game between my six-year-old and me was going great. Then I hit a double off the roof of the shed in our backyard and stood on second while he approached me to tag me out. “Ghost runner on second” I called, and began trotting back home.

“Daddy,” my son called in a quivering voice. I turned to see a look of confusion and sorrow on his face. “I think you’re cheating. There’s no one on second.”

The explanation that followed could go toe-to-toe with any calculus lecture in complexity. No, I wasn’t cheating. No, there wasn’t anyone on second. No, he couldn’t tag me out even though I was walking back to home plate. No, I didn’t make this rule up just now. Yes, he could have ghost runners too.

My son must have seen some inherent disadvantage in this new rule, because he immediately asserted that we could each have only one ghost runner. Maybe he was nervous about being surrounded by phantoms while pitching.

We continued our game in peace with no further accusations of cheating. He won, 10-8, but I was robbed of a few runs when he insisted that a ball I drove over the neighbor’s fence was an out rather than a home run, because there was no way for him to retrieve the ball.

It’s okay though. It’s not like I’m trying to recover any lost glory days by smacking Wiffle balls into the next yard. If this keeps up, I’ll be smacking them into Lake Michigan from my lavish retirement villa.


  1. It's also great when your four year old smacks a liner up the middle that ricochets off your head! That was followed by him calling out "shake it off daddy"

  2. Josh, just found your blog from the email you sent around. We are actually in the process of starting homeschooling our kids as well so I look forward to following along.

    I can picture that baseball field perfectly! I also remember that if you were able to hit that red barn you were in business.

    Hope you all have a great weekend!

    peace, brad goode

    1. Thanks Brad. I hope the homeschooling adventure goes well. It's been wonderful for our family.