I have just returned from the latest meeting of the Random Motion Amoeba Association, or, as it is known in our county, T-ball Practice.

The idea of starting Max off in the baseball world was, for me, a momentous event; for other fathers, I’m sure there are other great firsts – going fishing, learning to swim, chugging Yeagermister. But for me, images of Mutt Mantle tossing fastballs to the switch-hitting young Mickey Charles behind the barn loom large, and, while Max and I have had various games of what we euphemistically call “catch” (if I can get Max to keep his glove perfectly still and I toss the ball directly into it, I get to yell “great catch!”’ “great throw” is defined as anything that does not hit the dog), I could not wait to bring him to join his first, real, team.

It turns out that if you expand the concept of “team” to mean “eleven kids throwing their gloves at each other, running into each other, and stopping to grab clumps of dirt which they either heave high into the air while yelling “woo-hoo!” or shove directly into their mouths while yelling “Yuck! Dirt!” – well, then, my friend, we have ourselves a first-class Team.

Coach Brian, after a few practice sessions, decided to try, on this particular week, to have an actual one-inning T-Ball game. He lined up the kids, and, using the foolproof coaches’ call-and-response that gets all kids attention –

COACH: “One-two-three! Eyes-on-me!”

KIDS: “One! Two! Eyes on you!”

COACH: “OK, are we ready to play some baseball!”
KIDS: “Hey! Look! The ice cream truck! Yaaaay!”

COACH: “One-two-three! Eyes-on-me!”

KIDS: “Sound of screaming children running off into the distance!”

— had them ready for divvying up into teams. He tapped each kid, in order, on the head, saying, “You’re team one! You’re team two! One, two, one two” – and so on until each boy was assigned. Then: “Team one, to first base! Team two, to third base!”

At which point, most of Team One headed in the direction of Anywhere, most of Team Two sat down, and the remainder of the boys either grabbed a bat and started playing Star Wars, or got into a wrestling match over who actually is the King of Home Plate, with the exception of one boy who got stepped on, started crying, and inexplicably yelled, “Die, Teen Titans!”

Close enough. Play ball!

The game itself seemed to consist of more dirt-throwing, light-saber-fighting, and  base-stealing (not in the Ricky Henderson sense, but in the sense of some kid getting bored, grabbing first base, and running in the direction of the Port-A-Potty). I did hear Coach Brian utter the following phrases, rendered here verbatim and without comment:

“Andrew, your glove goes in your hand, not in your mouth!”

“There is no tackling in baseball! There is no tackling in baseball!”

“No armpit farts until after the game!”

On the other hand, Max, who got up last, with the bases loaded, smacked the ball off the tee, and (partly becase the other team had long since lost track of anything that was going on) wound up with a home run.

His first at-bat.

A grand slam.

Mutt Mantle would be so proud.