Coaching Peewee Baseball
I was coaching a peewee baseball game,
backing up the catcher,
giving quiet encouragement to the timid batter
who, until this day, had never stood in the batter's box,
when his mother, in the stands behind the fencing,
started yelling at him, as if he was embarrassing her,
not understanding that she was embarrassing him,
and making him more than a little self-conscious.
This kid had been at all the games,
never really wanted to try until today,
and had overcome a lot of his own personal fears
when he asked to be put into the lineup to bat.
And now he was on stage... center stage...
and his mother was acting like an idiot
and ruining what little self-esteem he had built up for himself.
He had missed several pitches, and was visibly upset,
(in peewee, you bat until you hit - there are no strikeouts)
while she screamed at him like a fishwife
hanging off the back railing in a tenement in Brooklyn in the thirties...
The kid looked like he wished he had never picked up the bat,
and his mother was still screaming at him.
I blew my whistle, held up my hands for a time-out,
stepped out to stand next to the batter,
turned to the stands behind home plate, and said, loudly, to his mother,
"Mrs. ______, if you will come down here,
and back up the catcher for me, then I will come up there,
and yell at your kid for you. in a quiet, constructive way,
that won't annoy everyone else,
and won't ruin your kid's first day at bat."
Silence. Then applause from everyone in the stands,
and from around the field, including some of the kids on both teams.
The mother looked around shamefacedly, then got up and left the stands,
and went and sat in her car.
The next two pitches went by,
but the one after that, he connected with,
and he made it to first base,
and then was brought in with the next two batters --
he had made his first home run!
(And he got better at it all the rest of the season.)
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