The lil’est slugger

We signed our daughter up for Lil’ Sluggers baseball on Saturday mornings. This was a risky move on the heels on Soccer Tots last fall, during which she had an all-out meltdown in five of the six sessions. Nevertheless, it’s important she remains active, and even more important I move forward with my plan of imposing the sport of baseball on her whether she likes it or not. It is my responsibility as a father.

Luckily, she seems to like baseball naturally. She has a baseball tee set in the backyard. Yes, it is pink, since “apparently every manufacturer in the world feels the need to gender-specify.” (- Wife) She also has a glove, which is also pink because I simply could not find a regular kid’s baseball glove. All the other (boys) gloves had pictures of Transformers or Spongebob Squarepants on them because: baseball. It is no longer possible to purchase a normal baseball glove for a child, fyi.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, she does enjoy hitting off the backyard tee, so we figured this could possibly translate well into her becoming a genuine Lil’ Slugger. The first session was a couple of weeks ago. It turned out our daughter was the only girl in the class, something I actually did not notice until my wife mentioned it when we arrived home. I was proud of myself for not noticing, thinking I’ve successfully reached the point where I do not judge Lil’ Sluggers based on gender alone. Upon further consideration, I realized I didn’t notice because I actually could not distinguish whether several of the kids were boys or girls.

One of my major concerns about these classes is that they are run by teenagers. I have no problem with teenagers (not true) except that they don’t have much experience with 3-year-olds. Especially my 3-year-old. She will run away as you are talking, and I doubt that’s something a teenager deals with on a day-to-day basis. Her coach for Lil’ Sluggers put my mind at ease somewhat when he said he’d been playing baseball his whole life. He then, however, in giving a broad overview of the game, described runs as “points.” I think he did this because he felt the kids could relate to points better than runs, but I almost pulled her out of the class right then and there.

To my surprise and delight, she has really taken to Lil’ Sluggers. I don’t want to say she’s the best Lil’ Slugger—there’s a lefty who comes dressed in full uniform who hits the ball fifty yards off the tee and who is either on steroids or 6—but she is definitely the lil’est. And she’s hanging with the boys. When she hits the ball off the tee, she feels the need to chase the ball down before she runs the bases because she doesn’t want anyone else to have it. Once we work that kink out, we may have something.

Better yet, there are kids in the class who are even more distracted than our daughter. There is one kid who I’m not sure has participated in anything yet; he just runs around in circles near the tennis courts. This makes me feel good for some reason. Still, our daughter has the attention span of a falling leaf, so I’m unsure how long the fun will last. It’s also the reason I doubt baseball will translate well for her as she gets older—And that's why they call it a double-switch ... hey, where did you go?—and why I want her to experience it now.

I mean, who knows if she’ll ever grow up to become every girl’s dream—a big slugger. For now, this will work.

Note: This column appears in the 10/25 issue of The Glendale Star and the 10/26 issue of the Peoria Times.