My Little League Career

I played soccer for one season when I was seven years old—my team went undefeated and took first place. Much like Michael Jordan, I felt there was nothing left for me to accomplish in the sport, so I decided to retire and try my hand at baseball. Unfortunately, the same level of winning proved to be elusive. The time has now come at last to tell the story of the 8 years I spent playing America's pastime. As an added bonus, gracing this career retrospective are several little league photos taken from the heart of the universal awkward stage that unforgivingly touches everyone from the average age of 5 to 17.

New Jersey

1988 // A-1 Storage
The coach of my first team was a family friend, and he recruited my Dad to be one of his assistants. I don't know why, but the thought of Dad helping run a baseball practice is strangely hilarious now. In those early days even my grandma offered to play catch with me when they came to visit. Not realizing her natural abilities, one of her laser tosses grazed the top of my mitt and caught me square on the nose, bloodying it.

1989 // Roxbury Rotary
In New Jersey, little league teams were named after sometimes less than intimidating local sponsors. The best team always seemed to be the "Kiwanis Club" because their name sounded like the offspring of a poisonous snake and a carnivorous fish. It wasn't until later that I learned Kiwanis International is actually an organization that serves the less fortunate children of the world. Lame! Well... you know what I mean.

1990 // Nicholson Furs
I don't remember much from this year other than when the animal activists would disrupt our games by dousing us with buckets of blood. In my despondence I became addicted to Big League Chew.

Big League Chew soon earned "forbidden fruit" status in our house on the grounds of "appearance of evil."

1991 // Victoria Diner
This team was bad enough that I was actually considered one of its best players. At the end of the season I got selected to join a community All-Star team that played against neighboring cities.


1992 // Cardinals
My family moved to Utah at the end of 1991, so the next Spring I got to learn the ropes of little league in a new place. Gone were the local sponsor team names and bad trucker hats, replaced by honest to goodness Major League mascots and uniforms. Unfortunately, the change in scenery didn't translate to more victories.

1993 // Marlins
With the future Viewmont High baseball coach at the helm, this was my only team that finished with a winning record. We ended up taking 4th place, the closest I ever got to winning a coveted baseball trophy. At the end of the season I overheard some of my teammates grumbling that this was the worst team they had ever been on. Maybe they would have been more grateful had they played for Nicholson Furs.

Just think, the baseball trophy I never won could be proudly displayed at this very momentright next to my soccer trophy in the back of the closet.

1994 // Dodgers
My coaches were a pair of young, minor league wannabes (who, incidentally, couldn't even make it with the Ogden Raptors). One of them fancied himself a pitcher. He had decent velocity, but no control. This made batting practice quite an adventure as he would frequently bean us. This season also provided one of my all-time most embarrassing moments. I had just singled and was standing on first base. As the next batter hit a grounder up the first base line I ran to second. I heard the umpire yell "FOUL!" and saw the batter walking back toward home plate, so I turned and trotted back to first. When the pitcher saw me between the bases he suddenly bolted in my direction and tagged me with his glove. The umpire then yelled "OUT!" which to my horror sounded an awful lot like "FOUL!" I briefly argued but was soon heading for the dugout bench as my coaches and teammates stared at me in disgust.

1995 // Orioles
My final coach laid down the law at our very first practice. You would run a lap for every minute you were late to practice. You would run a lap if you missed an easy ground ball, and so on and so forth. Initially, I was cautiously optimistic. Maybe having a hard-nosed coach would mean a disciplined, competitive team. Nope, we were still terrible. Near the end of the season I missed a few games to attend Scout camp. After I got home I received a phone call from a player on another team asking me if I wanted to play for them since my team had disbanded. That's right, while I was gone they simply deciding they didn't want to finish the season. What a joke. And with that, my baseball career came to a rather ignominious end. At least I got an indestructible t-shirt.


Cheryl said...

shows how involved I was, I didn't remember you were on an all star team. I do remember the Nicholson fur hat and the fact that you always word sweat pants pulled up to your knees.

ScottBoomer said...

Thats quite the career. Shame your team disbanded. Maybe it's because you weren't there to stop it, or maybe kids were tired of running laps.

Christie said...

I do remember the all star stint.. all those team names and the trees in the backgroud make me Succasunna nostalgic. I never knew(or don't remember) that Don was a coach though.. ??

Dave said...

Were't you away at BYU in 1991, Cheryl? That would explain why you don't remember the All-Star stint. And yes, Dad was an assistant coach my first season. He's in the team photo. Also of note in the same photo, I'm wearing some of Mom's fabulous homemade shorts as part of my uniform.