Little League triumph of tradition, genetics

By Bob Huber: Local Columnist

Now comes Little League Baseball with its millions of fans who are so dedicated that each May they face east and, on cue from Williamsport, Pa., yell at the top of their lungs.
The theory is that their howling creates gigantic gales which in turn slows the Earth’s rotation and therefore provides more daylight for evening baseball games.

No, that isn’t true, because Little League Baseball, even back in olden times, has nothing to do with daylight-saving time. Face it, Little League is just a two-month summer activity aimed at dressing kids in midget uniforms and teaching them to play ball in spite of snarling rottweilers in the stands.

Besides that, the players are too short and inexperienced for real baseball, and the fans are too personally involved. It’s the opposite of Major League Baseball where the players are overdeveloped, and fans don’t fuss unless concessionaires run out of beer.

To further my own scholarly research into this matter I sat next to parents of a Little League player one evening and was given guidelines for the sport. Here’s that conversation:
“How come all those players are hanging around third base?”

“Do you see the kid coming up to bat, the little red-head with a cheek full of bubble gum? He’s a good hitter, but the ball always goes down to third base.”

“I see.”

“No you don’t. You gotta understand that the third baseperson, that rosy-cheeked, pretty girl in the gingham cap, couldn’t catch a ball in a bushel. That’s why she uses a milk bucket instead of a glove. That’s also why the shortstop stands behind her.”

“He’s backing her up?”

“In a way. You see, the shortstop is a good fielder, but he can’t throw worth a hoot. His best toss to date was an under-handed flip to second base on a double play. It turned out all right, because the ball ricocheted off the pitcher’s head to second base. You just never know where the ball’s going to end up when he throws it.”

“And the other guys out there?”

“The skinny one behind the shortstop is the left fielder. When he isn’t picking his nose and watching clouds, he can really throw a long ball. His grandfather is that old bird leaning on the fence, waiting to shout instructions where the kid should toss the ball.”

“What about the one who’s drooling?”

“Oh, he’s the second baseman. Forget him. He just likes to hang around the third baseperson, because he’s in love with her. Where she goes, he goes.”

“What happens when the red-headed kid hits the ball?”

“History repeats itself. The ball fires down the third base line, but it misses the milk bucket and has to be caught by the shortstop who flips it to the left fielder, bouncing it off the pitcher’s head. Meanwhile, the left fielder is awakened by his grandfather who shouts, ‘Throw to first, you twit!’”
“Well, whatever gets the job done.”

“Oh, it gets better. You see, the first baseman ducks and covers his head, and the right fielder has to catch the throw to first. Of course, he’s 20 feet off the plate next to the dugout, but no matter, because the red-headed batter has stumbled on his untied sneakers and nosedives halfway to first.”

“What happens then?”

“Well, the right fielder fires the ball to first, but the first baseman ducks again, and the ball bounces off the batter’s helmet and bonks the second baseman in the side of the head where he’s drooling at the third baseperson and not watching the game.”

“That’s a different kind of baseball, all right,” I said.

“Yeah, ain’t it wonderful? Not long ago I was out there myself on second base.”

No doubt, I thought, because he did have a lopsided face as though he’d been hit by a baseball while drooling, and next to him sat his rosy-cheeked wife, who wore a gingham baseball cap and had a milk bucket on her lap.

The upshot is, the next time you hear about organized sports — defined as doing something ridiculous very well — support your Little League Baseball team. It’ll be here long after we’re gone, because it’s genetic.

Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales. He can be contacted at 356-3674.