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April 20, 2009

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:


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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:

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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.

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He made his way around the bases and scored both times, with ample opportunity for archetypal crotch-grabbing:

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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.

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Comments

Sounds like the kid's got a lot of moxie. (Did you hear that sentence in a Wilford Brimley voice?)

But how quickly they grow up: Soon he'll be jamming his spikes into the second baseman's leg and knocking the wind out of the catcher as he barrels into him on his way home. God Bless America!

Neil: I'm glad you're posting here! I was one of your "dozens" of loyal Parenting readers and was sad to see it end. Keep 'em coming.

Adorable pictures! You should post pics more often; you've got one epic cute kid.

Adorable pictures! You should post pics more often; you've got one epic cute kid.

Neal:

Glad to see you back here, taking on the man and writing about all the great shit I just wasn't getting at Parents.com.

I, too, suffered the fate of being on the Yankees in Little League. As a born Red Sox fan it was hard to take, although the fact that we sucked was somehow enjoyable and awful at the same time.

Can't wait to hear about Elijah throwing his helmet in frustration and breaking bats over his knees!

1) This is the cutest picture of Elijah since, well...the last one you took.

2) You give new meaning to the concept of parenting by the skin of your teeth. I'm sure your dentist will understand that your now-needed veneer work was the consequence of a deeply worthy cause.

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