Saturday, June 13, 2009

It's Just Little League....Not the World Series

I spent Thursday evening doing something I haven't done in nearly 5 years. Something I vowed I would never do again. I went to my youngest nephew's very first All-Star game.

Now don't get me wrong, I love my nephew. It's the atmosphere of the average, American, Little League baseball park that I abhor.

I know what you are thinking..."Joy, you volunteer at a ball park." The Miracle League park is much different. Everyone is loving, supportive and there to have fun. It was after an ugly incident as a ball park mom when my husband was our son's coach that made me watch my first Miracle League game. I remember watching and thinking, " THIS is what baseball should be."

But I digress....

"Scooter is 6 and is playing for the very first time in the coach-pitch division of his hometown park league

For his first time to ever play a sport, he is surprisingly good. He has played a variety of positions with efficiency, and was chosen from his regular team to play on the All Star team, even over players that had been playing since cap ball. We were all very excited.

I rode with my mother and her husband, about an hour from our hometown to the park, out in the middle of no where. It was everything I remember from my days as a ball park mom....heat, bugs, dirt, crappy bleachers. Even the smell, a mixture of Off, sweat, Alabama red clay, and over-cooked hot dogs, was the same.

The park was your standard "clover" design, four ball fields extending out from a central concession building, that carried your standard ball park fare: Hot Dogs, hamburgers, fries, and nachos.

I will have to say my park has much better nachos. I am not even certain what we received could be defined as "nachos," bland, round, tortilla chips with congealing, canned cheese poured over them. And they were expensive! Nachos at my park (the good kind) are a full dollar cheaper. For what we paid for a plate of nachos, we could have brought them in from Chili's. I thought, "I'm blowing my diet over this?!"

The boys were very excited to be playing in new uniforms and they posed for a team photo before they warmed up. We took our seats at the top of the wooden bleachers, rubbed on (ineffective) bug repellant, and prepared for the game. That is when I identified them....the overly aggressive ball park parent.

People who do not have children, or people who do not have children that play organized team sports will have no concept of what I am about to discuss, so bear with me as best you can.

On the other hand, those who do have children, involved in some sort of team sport, will not only know exactly what I am talking about, they will also quickly identify the parent in their own organization that I will be describing. Baseball, football, soccer, hockey, tennis, volleyball...doesn't matter. Trust me, there are versions of the same people in every youth league sport across the country.

These people make up about 2% of ball park parents. They are extremely serious and extremely focused on the performance of their child and or the others on the team. They are loud, boorish, and can be violent. They have less than complimentary things to say to the officials, coaches, visitors and even their children. You have, no doubt, seen them on CNN, as they are being led away in handcuffs from their child's sporting event.

More often than not, they also have more than one child and are usually unable to keep up with whomever is not on the field. In this case, it was a little girl, about 2 or 3, who I will call "Sally."

Sally's brother was on Scooter's team and his parents set up on the front row of bleachers, by the fence between third and home. Super Mom was dressed in "daisy dukes," a halter top that showed her belly button ring, and wedge sandals. It would have been a cute outfit on a smaller girl, but the muffin top rolling over the top of her shorts made it less than appealing. I will give her credit for moving behind the bleachers to smoke, which both her and her husband seemed to do in shifts. We sat in a never ending cloud of smoke. It did little to deter the mosquitos.

The "chatter" started almost immediately, loud, boardering on unruly. Sally, drew in the dirt with her fingers, unnoticed, and it was not long before she was covered in red clay from head to toe. She had a tiny yellow cast on her left arm, the tiniest one I've ever seen. Most likely an injury sustained as she played, unsupervised, during the regular season.

Sally ran to and fro, in the open space between our field and the next. She picked up things on the ground, and sampled the nachos abandonned by her parents on the end of the bleachers. She ran back and forth, cheese covered chip in each grubby hand. I soon heard the unmistakable sound of a little mouth with too much food to swallow and turned around just in time to see her vomit all over the front of her shirt. She ran, wailing, to her mother, who only looked up from the game long enough to strip the shirt from her body. She ran around shirtless. I watched her nervously. Someone needed to. Anyone could have picked that child up and walked away with her.

A scant 10 minutes later, Sally was at her mother's side again, swaying from side to side, singing "MAH-MEE, I have to TEE TEE." The official made a rather controversial call, and Sally's mom was on her feet, shouting angrily onto the field. Sally swayed from side to side. Everyone in our section knew she had to go, right up until she did. Everyone except her mother, oblivious to puddle on the ground next to her. Obviously embarrased, Sally attempted to climb up into her mother's lap, and only then did Super Mom realize she had wet her pants.

She spanked her all the way to the car.

I looked at my mother. Her eyes told me that we were thinking the same thing.

When Sally and her mother returned, she was running, pulling Sally along by her good arm. "Whad-I miss?! whad-I miss?!" She dropped Sally's hand, and returned to her seat.

There were several bad calls, and the rules seemed to change each time our team was winning.

I watched with amazement as parents around me came unglued. Red faces and throbing neck veins were all around me. All I could think was, 'geez people, these boys are 6. It's not the World Series.' Super Mom became so beligerant, our team was "warned" that further disorderly conduct would result in an automatic out. Sally continued to play in the dirt and eventually curled up in the folding chair her father had vacated, where she fell asleep.

Unfortunately we lost, but Scooter was excited to have all his family come out to cheer him on.

As we left the park, Super Mom was carrying Sally's limp, sleeping body against her shoulder, hissing angrily about filing a complaint with the league and giving someone a piece of her mind.

On the long ride home, my mother said she could tell I wanted to intervene in the Sally situation. She asked what stopped me from saying something. I told her that I'd rather not wind up in the know, "Moody Woman Killed By Crazed Little League Fan."

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