Never tell boys or girls to line up.
For us first-time coaches of first-time baseball players who just hours ago had finished their first day of first grade, we wondered what the first practice would be like.
Could we keep these decidedly rough-but-future-stars-of-the-baseball-diamond in line to do anything?
“You don’t,” one coach answered, “but you’ll learn.”
As the third base coach how do you keep one of these little guys or girls from not stopping at second base and heading for third when the ball they hit had never left the infield and the other team’s player has the ball and is right behind them?
The national organization which sponsored the team asked, “What will we get if we sponsor your team?”
“It’s not what you get in the way of advertising on uniforms or promotions on a banner hanging on the backstop,” I replied.
“It’s what the boys and girls get – the chance to wear an orange-and-black uniform; to hear the crack of the bat on the ball; to run the bases; to slide across home plate; to get dirty and maybe, just maybe, score a home run on a ball that never left the infield.”
The sponsor’s donation will help fill their mental scrapbooks with lifetime memories. Some day when these boys and girls are men and women, they will pass on the lessons they’ve learned on their field of dreams to their own children or the children they coach in their communities in helping them realize their dreams of baseball glory.
The game of baseball is a wonderful metaphor for life.
If we want our children to stand out, then they should be allowed to challenge the status quo, to rock the boat, to color outside the lines, to stretch for home, to keep going when life is hard ….
Then do not line them up; instead, let them be children.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.