Bobby’s “Little League” coaching experience has not been what either of us expected. It’s amounted to spending lots of time, energy, and effort (on treasured Saturdays) put into teaching a group of 10-year old boys (none of whom are our own, or of any relation) who seem to care precious little about baseball (they prefer soccer). True, Bobby gets to spend time on the baseball field and pass on his lifetime of knowledge to the youngsters, but truth be told, they don’t seem to care much for the game.
The experience has been a bit of a letdown…until last night.
Last night was the first game of the season, and to be honest, we were prepared for the worst. They had had only a few practices, only two of which had been outside…on a real field. Who knew if they even knew any fundamentals?! By all accounts, it wasn’t looking good. Bobby and I were counting each little guy as he arrived (hoping enough of them showed up), decked out in their new uniforms. (“Hmm”, I thought. “They at least look like baseball players....”) Ironically, the team’s colors match Bobby’s college team, so all of his CMU gear (and there is plenty of it) coordinates perfectly. And, sure enough, the whole team showed up. Who would've thought?
Then, the (completely) unexpected happened. The Dragons took the field, and lo and behold, those little stinkers became a baseball team right before our eyes. They were hitting the ball like nobody’s business, and stealing bases left and right. Somehow, it all came together, and they were doing more than just holding their own…they were competing, and looking pretty good while they did. They had all the baseball moves, the swagger, the style…and the talent!
It was like the stuff movies are made of. You should’ve seen it.
But, precious as all this was, my favorite aspect of the night was watching Bobby interact with those kids. As surprised as I was at the performance of the boys, I was not surprised whatsoever by the class and positive energy that Bobby brought to the field. He is incredible. His enthusiasm and genuine encouragement made all the difference, in my opinion.
It's taken a while for the kids to figure him out, but now that they’ve realized that he’s a good time, he has them eating out of the palm of his hand. They watch him and listen to him, and I cannot think of a better role model for those young boys. He knows about baseball, sure. But, more than that, he knows what it means to be a respectful, well-mannered, “class act”…on the field and off. And, the boys are drawn to that! I’m sure he’s influencing those little men so much more than he knows, and I suspect they’re going to learn a lot this season.
Watching “Coach Bobby” last night brought tears to my eyes. He has a gift, and it’s going to be a fun summer…watching the team, and watching him.
The Dragons won their first game, 15-11. It was a surprise to everyone, I think, but certainly a welcome one. I’m pretty sure that everyone left the ballpark with a smile. I know I did…because I left with “Coach Bobby” (who I’ve been married to for 8 months today!)
I’m relatively confident that I’ll be watching a good deal of Little League games in the years ahead…and I’m prepared for that. With Bobby as the coach (and perhaps, one day, “little Bobby’s” on the field), I’m sure they will be games I won’t want to miss.
--Before "Coach Bobby" was "Coach Bobby"--