Fun: The Way to Baseball Happiness!
John F. Paciorek
How can I have fun playing baseball if I am 5 years old and have never before played the game? I have never caught, thrown, or batted a baseball. This scenario might be considered a “stage 1” category of developmental (kindergarten level) inquiry. A 5 year old who would ask such a question must have seen the game being played by children his age (or perhaps older) who appeared to be having fun. He must have noticed the children hitting, catching, and throwing a round ball while running to and from various positions on a diamond shaped field with fence around the perimeter. IF he had not someone to show or teach him the simple fundamentals of playing the game, perhaps his imagination was cultivated enough to allow him to pretend that he too could perform the actions that he saw being displayed on that field or park, in the privacy of his own mind. As his body was becoming more capable of mimicking the actions of throwing, catching, and batting imaginary objects in and from the “air” while running bases and chasing balls from fictitious projections of his mind, he might have elicited from himself a readiness to experience the real thing if and when the opportunity presented itself.
I can only imagine what may have become of this erstwhile baseball prospect, but I saw firsthand how my 3 year-old brother initiated his baseball career. I was a senior on my High School baseball team in the early 1960s. All my relatives and sometimes professional baseball scouts would come out to see me show off my particular talents. Our team often played its games on Sandlot fields with 3 other adjacent fields back to back to back. Sometimes all fields were being used at the same time. Other times, only one field was in use.
It became common occurrence that while my game was proceeding on field one, my little brother would look forward to watching my game for a while. Then after moments of gaining inspiration and enthusiasm, he would run off to field two, directly behind mine. And there he would stay for 7 to 9 innings mimicking all the action he saw displayed on field one. Pretending to pitch the ball, then hitting the pretend ball, then run the (real) 90 foot bases, sliding into 2nd, 3rd, and home bases. He would usually continue this exuberant activity for my entire game. And it wouldn’t be uncommon to observe the people in “our” stands looking over the guard railing onto the adjacent field watching the antics of a remarkable young baseball prospect in the initial stages of his long baseball career.
To be continued, later this week.