Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dispatches from the Diamond

Friday night I had my first taste of a little league baseball tournament and I was in people-watching heaven. I have a minor obsession with subcultures and hardcore baseball families fed that obsession perfectly. I'm not talking about people whose kids play baseball. I'm talking about people whose entire identity is little league baseball. They wear shirts like this:

And shoes like this:

And get this pedicure:

The whole family gets into the act:

I didn't actually see anyone
with this shirt. Unfortunately.

I mean no disrespect to anyone who gets gung-ho about little league. To the contrary, I'm pretty much in awe of people who go all-in with their interests. I am far too self-conscious to go to such extremes. Of course, the irony of the whole thing is that I'm the one who looks out of place because I'm not dressed in team gear. It reminds me of all the years that the Boy refused to wear a Halloween costume because he thought he'd look weird. I tried to explain that if you're the only kid not wearing a costume on Halloween, then you're the one who looks weird. If I let my self-consciousness be my guide, I should really get a shirt like this and just blend:

Behind the bedazzled shirts, though, these baseball moms operated with military precision. I saw several women pulling folding wagons out of the back of their Suburbans, and piling them with bag chairs, tailgating tents, coolers full of Gatorade, snacks, and Frogg Toggs. Meanwhile, I'm lucky that I make it to the games with my children.

See that red wagon full of gear on the right? Not mine.
I should also mention that the Boy was the only kid I saw at the tournament wearing soccer cleats rather than baseball cleats. I like to think this makes us look like we're too cool to care, but along with my lack of sparkly baseball shirts, it probably just reenforces the fact that I'm in way over my head.

The Boy, clearly hampered by the wrong cleats. 
Speaking of not knowing what I'm doing, on Friday night the K had to stay late at work, so I had to get the Boy dressed and take him to his game. This is usually not that big of a deal, as I've been dressing him for baseball games since he was in four year old t-ball. However, the Boy got picked to play catcher for the tournament and we have made the turn into real baseball where the kid playing catcher needs certain protective equipment. The K borrowed some sliding shorts and a cup for the Boy and left them on the Boy's uniform. I realized that I didn't understand something fundamental about the sliding shorts, so I had to text the K (aka Robert) and his BBF (best baseball friend) David a question:

As you can see, I'm surrounded by comedians. Thank goodness.

Well, the Boy is even more self-conscious than I am, so you can be sure he was thrilled to discuss with me the necessity of special underpants and a cup. He flat out refused to wear them. I begged and pleaded and threatened to no avail. I tried everything short of holding him down and forcing his flailing legs into the damn things. When none of this worked, I did what any good baseball mom would do; stuffed them in his bat bag and decided that the K could deal with it when he arrived for the game.  

We drove out to the baseball park, which was about an hour from our house. The team was practicing fielding when we arrived because, naturally, I got lost twice on the way. While the Boy started catching with one of his friends, I rooted around in the bag to make sure that we had his extra uniform shirt and the sliding shorts. I got a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach when I realized that the sliding shorts were not in his bag. I quickly called the K:

Me: The Boy wouldn't wear his sliding shorts, so I stuck them in the bag so you could help him with them, and now I can't find them.
K: What do you mean? Where are they?
Me: I don't know. I put them in his bat bag and now they're not there. The only thing I can think is that he so didn't want to wear them that he pulled them out of the bag and hid them someplace. 
K: He has to have a cup to play catcher. Can you find him a cup somewhere? I'll be there in about ten minutes to help. 
Me: Okay.

So, there I am surrounded by blinged-out, uber-prepared women who don't leave home without their baseball mom koozies, and I'm missing my kid's most basic of protective gear. And, I have to approach one of these people, admit my oversight, and ask to borrow something that their kid used to cover his penis. Awesome. About this time, I decided against any realistic possibility, that the shorts might be in the car, so I walked out to the parking lot and searched the backseat of the minivan. Nothing. On the way back, I saw a friend/acquaintance whose younger son was a preschool friend of the Boy's. She was there with her younger son to see her older son's game, but her younger son was all decked out in his baseball gear, as well. I told her my dilemma and bless her heart (and I mean this in the non-sarcastic/pitying way), she went back to her car and found me an extra cup. She even offered that her younger son was wearing sliding shorts (just for kicks, apparently) and she'd make him strip them off and give them to the Boy. I get choked up thinking about it. It's one thing to give someone the shirt off your back, another thing entirely to give someone your son's underwear.

About this time, the K arrived and convinced the Boy to shove the cup down his pants. Good thing, too, because in the last play of the game, the Boy was covering home and got steamrolled by the baserunner for the other team. As he lay on the ground with a couple of coaches making sure he was okay, I thought, "screw the cup! He needs full body armor!" As the Boy gingerly stood up, the spectators cheered, and the man next to me punched his fist into his palm. "All right!" he shouted,  "That's the way you play baseball!"

I think it's going to be a long summer.

P.S. I found the sliding shorts hidden under the couch when I got home. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm laughing because JMB is playing sandlot baseball this summer. He handed me a list of $400 worth of equipment he thinks he needs, including a padded shirt. He says he needs baseball cleats too. I'll tell him that soccer cleats work just fine. Thank goodness he already has a cup from football!