Fri, 6:45PM – head out to coach my oldest son’s Little League game

Sat, 8:20AM – leave to manage younger son’s tball game

Sat, 1:30PM – finish lunch, back to the ball field to umpire a different game that my sons aren’t even playing in

Sat, 4:30PM – same field, different game. Coaching oldest’s game (again).

Sat, 6:30PM – driving home in pouring rain and thunderstorm

Sat, 8:30PM – boys in bed, sit down on the couch….turn on the Yankees/Red Sox game…?

Spring is a great time of year, but in our house, it often means extra craziness and lots of rushing to get done with work, heading out in the evenings, awkward dinner plans, and long weekends. Spring is baseball season, and while on one hand I wouldn’t miss it for anything, by the time it is over, I’m thoroughly exhausted.  Moving to Virginia in late March this year, I was torn over what to do about getting the boys involved in Little League. We were worried that it would be too hectic and draining while we were just getting settled into a new house, school and town. But we did it anyway. And it is certainly hectic and draining. But most days, I’m glad that we did it so that the boys have some sense of normalcy and didn’t have to miss an entire season. What I didn’t fully think through was that the boys were in two different age groups and thus two different teams this year. Which means four days a week with baseball games. That’s a lot of baseball.

With all the changes at our house, I had signed the two older boys up and despite managing tball back in New Jersey the last two years, I volunteered to (just) assistant coach their two teams. My theory is that I plan to be at the boys’ games anyway so I might as well be on the field with them and reduce the risk that they get some jerk for a a less understanding coach. Despite best plans, and being two weeks late for the start of the practice season in March, I still somehow stepped in it and ended up holding the reins of my younger son’s tball team. Managing tball isn’t very hard, but there is a lot of extra work sending out all the emails, responding to various parent concerns, making the lineups and mustering up that extra energy at the games to keep everything running smoothly. Our tball team, the Yankees (no, I didn’t plan that but works out well!), is actually pretty good and for once I wouldn’t mind if they kept score!

My oldest son is in what was called “Farm A” in New Jersey, but in Virginia they call “machine pitch”. I was envisioning some motorized JUGS gun, but it’s actually a fairly simple spring and release metal device that fires the balls in to the plate. The jump from tball for kindergarteners to machine pitch for first/second graders is significant, and there was a big learning curve for my son once the season started. We moved from tball where we didn’t keep score, barely made outs and batted through the order each of three innings, and into a six-inning, competitive game that included outs, strikes, covering the bases and the like. The only significant difference between their league and “real” baseball is the lack of bunting, stealing, walks and of course actual live pitches. It has been fun to see him gradually pick up the strategy of the game and now be much more aware of where to make a play and look forward to getting the ball rather than watching the ice cream truck in the parking lot. It amazes me every year how much they grow and the difference between his throwing and catching from last year.

I have no idea where the boys’ sports careers will lead. I have no idea how we’ll possibly get all three to their games if and when our two year old starts playing in a few years. I can see how parents get carried away with their kids in sports, and one of my greatest concerns in coaching has been running into obnoxious parents who take things way too seriously. So far, however, it’s been a great experience, and is truly great father son time. And my oldest son will tell you that it comes in mighty handy having your dad be a coach so that he can help you with putting the cup on when you’re the catcher. “You put what where?” my younger son exclaimed when his brother told him about it. Some things truly are even beyond a boy’s imagination. If only he knew what else lay ahead! In the meantime, we’ll keep on suiting up, heading out to the field and all try to catch the balls that come our way.

Here’s the cheer all the kids say in Virginia that I never heard in two years in New Jersey – maybe I can spread this across state lines:

Come on Matthew, You can do it, Put a little power to it. Hit! The ball! Over, the Wall! To China!

(not sure if it translates without the tune, but it’s cute)

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