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01/23/2002

Tee Ball

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This past Sunday I signed Jake up for Tee-Ball. Now let me get this right out in the open. I don't know how I fell about Tee-Ball. Although I suspect that I might hate Tee-Ball. So, you know, you can see where this might be a problem.

First of all, is it T-Ball or Tee-Ball? Or just Teeball? If you go to teeballusa.org you will find this little blurb and graphic:

The T•BALL USA Association is the national not-for-profit youth sports organization dedicated to the development of the game of tee ball. It offers a broad variety of programs and services and is the center for information on how to improve existing tee ball programs and establish new ones. Working with national, regional and local youth baseball leagues, civic or community groups, parents and kids, it is the basic source for tee ball advice and assistance. Organizations serviced include the YMCA, the National Recreation & Parks Association, the Amateur Athletic Union, the National Police Athletic League, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Little League, U.S. military bases and many independent, non-aligned local leagues.

So you can see that is no help. I guess the organization is called T-ball (but with a "dot" instead of a hyphen) and the game is called tee ball. But in my search on Google I found ANOTHER sight regarding Tee Ball. This is the Tee Ball® Baseball Official Web Site. It carries the little registered mark and at the bottom of the page there is a small note that says Tee Ball® Baseball is a registered trademark of Gospel Projects, Inc., Milton, Florida. So the gospel thing scares me. And the fact that this "official" website is actually a Geocities site. Nothing says "official" like having a free Geocities site. This site says they've been promoting youth baseball for "more than 40 years". I don't know where I'm going with this really,except to say that the idea of taking a baseball and putting it on a tee for some kid who can't hit a pitched ball isn't exactly revolutionary. By the way, nice job on that graphic. If the tee is the perfect thing to help kids develop the "perfect swing" why is that kid still popping the ball up so badly?

So here's the deal. Accepting for the moment that tee ball hasbeen around for 40 years, it wasn't around St. Louis, MO when I started playing baseball 30 years ago. So I look down on tee ball. I learned to hit a pitched ball. A pitched ball from a kid who couldn't throw straight to save his life. And that brings me to another point about tee ball. Just what is the purpose of the tee? The Official Geocities Tee Ball site says that "[t]he tee is great for practicing that "perfect swing" for players practicing alone and it's perfect for coaching hitting mechanics in a setting where the coach can pay close attention to every aspect of the swing." But the T Dot Ball site says "[t]he elimination of pitching allows children to participate without the fear of being hit by a pitched ball." I always thought it was because the games were too boring because the kids were just learning to pitch and would walk 47 batters in a row, occasionally hitting a kid every ten batters or so. Anyway, back to me. When I was five years old, I stepped up to the plate and took my swings. In practice, a coach would pitch to us. We played baseball. Pure baseball, the only thing different from the games I saw on T.V. or at Busch Stadium was the size of the field and equipment. And so the purist in me poo-poos the concept of tee-ball (while the colon in me poo-poos everything else). I just can't get past the fact that it's not baseball. To me it is cheating somehow.

Apart from this, Jake isn't thrilled with the idea of playing anything resembling baseball. Most of this is my fault. In trying to assuage his fears about me going to the hospital, I regailed him with numerous stories of my previous trips to the hospital. I wanted to show him that the hospital was a good place, not a place to be afraid of and that even as a kid, going is not a big deal. Unfortunately, many of my "going to the hospital" storied arose from injuries recieved while playing baseball. Now, I loved playing baseball and I played it with abandon. And I was a catcher. So before you start forming the idea that was some kind of inept, accident-prone, stumble bum, just stop. I got a couple of concussions from baseballs being thrown from the outfield to the plate. Getting barrled over while you are trying to catch a one hop rope from the left fielder sometimes does that to you. I also got cut with a guy's spikes when I was picking up the ball and the runner stepped on my hand. My hand was caught between the ball on the ground and the toe of the spikes on top. Technically, he was out so I was proud of that, but I did have a big gash on the back of my right hand. Remember, I'm old, so we are talking about metal spikes here. Not the rubber safety cleats. And I've shown Jake my crooked finger broken from getting hit with a foul tip. I have also shown him the matching finger on my dad's hand. The finger my dad broke as a catcher from a errant foul tip. From all this Jake has somehow gotten the impression that baseball eventually kills everyone who ever plays it. Well, we're forcing him to play anyway. Not like a "hockey dad" thing, honest. We made a deal with Jake that he has to try something at least once. Be it a new food, sport, experience or whatever. He played soccer this year. He wasn't thrilled with it, so he may not play again. That's fine with us - he tried it. But now he's complaining about playing tee ball, even though he knows that he made the deal. I just don't want him giving up on the "concept" of baseball, just because he's decided that he doesn't like tee-ball.

Oh, who cares anyway? I still have Bobby to make over in my image. He's going to be the catcher in the family anyway. You can read all about it when the "Baseball Catcher Dad" abuse scandal hits the papers. I have to relive my glory days somehow, don't I? What better way is there, than forcing my kid into manditory "recreation". MWUUAHAHAHAHA...... (Note to self: clean up that last paragraph - people might get the wrong idea.... MWUUAHAHAHAHA....)