Pride Of The Yankees
Friday was "Opening Day" for Elijah's Little League. This occurred at the Glassell Park Recreation Center, and involved every team from every level of Silver Lake and Glassell Youth Baseball running around the bases. Also, a high-school student sang a off-key National Anthem, a group of what my son's teammates called "Army Men" (but were actually Junior ROTCs from Franklin High School) presented the colors, and former Dodger reliever Bobby Castillo delivered some incomprehensible remarks and threw out the first pitch. It was also the first time Elijah had donned the full Yankees uniform.
I've come to accept the fact that Elijah's been assigned to the Yankees, though I hope he doesn't succumb to the intense hype and media pressure. Some players just aren't cut out for the pinstripes. Regardless, we had to get him changed before the "parade." Thus I found myself sitting in the front-seat of my car at Avenue 35 and Eagle Rock Boulevard, tearing at his uniform shirt tag with my teeth. Regina had wisely remembered to cut off the pants tag, but not the shirt. This took me a couple of minutes and will probably cost me 200 bucks in dental bills later on, but finally, Elijah was ready for this year's informal baseball portrait. He posed, as is his wont, like a totally adorable ding-dong:
Then Elijah's team ran around the bases. See if you can peg the demographic of the kids when I give you this list of their first names: Spencer, Angelo, Elliot, Elijah, Liam, Julien, Leon, Lucca, Ryan, Jackson, Finn, and Ace. By contrast, the Glassell Park Yankees is all Rudy and Gabriel and Eduardo and Jake. Also, the Glassell Park teams are, interestingly enough, about 50-50 boy-girl. There are maybe a half-dozen girl players in the whole Silver Lake league, at any level. Gender stereotypes continue to hold strong sway among America's bobo parents.
But regardless of their social class, the kids ate complimentary hot dogs, chips, and juice boxes:
Then, at 9 AM the next day, Elijah's Yankees took on the Silver Lake A's in an epic two-inning, 45-minute clash. The entire team showed up, which meant a dozen players batted in each inning and there were two layers of infield. Elijah's coach, a kind, mellow guy who happens to be the father of one of Elijah's classmates and also happens to be an actor who's been playing Van Helsing in a local-theater production of Dracula for months, has shown a lot of patience and has got the kids playing with energy and team spirit. This means something when most of the players still don't understand the concept of throwing to first base and when some of them still run toward third when they hit the ball.
Elijah played "right center" in the first inning, which afforded him much time to sit down and pick grass, and shortstop in the second. At some point, he was picking rocks out of the dirt, and the ball came right to him. He scooped it up in his glove, transferred it to his left hand, and threw it, underhanded, into center field.
After the game, coach said to Regina and I, "I think Elijah's a lefty."
"No," I said. "He just wears his glove wrong because he says it makes his hand sweaty."
We're going to work on that.
At the plate, Elijah smacked the ball fairly hard, both times, on the first try, and ran to first with determination and speed. Since I was acting as first-base coach, I was able to pat him congratulations, though I had to remind him that it's not a good idea to try your kung-fu moves out on your dad when arriving at first base.
He made his way around the bases and scored both times, with ample opportunity for archetypal crotch-grabbing:
Soon enough, the game was over. The parents made a "tunnel" for the players to run through, and we whooped loudly while they passed back and forth. After the game, Elijah sucked on a Capri Sun, and exulted in the fact that he "didn't get tagged out one time."
"But it will happen," I said. "At some point, you're going to get out."
"Of course I will," he said. "It's baseball."
Indeed it is, my boy.