The Boys of Summer*

Tee_ball_player_swinging_at_ball_on_tee_2010Yesterday was a holiday in the United States called Memorial Day, a day when we honor (remember with respect) those men and women who fought and died for our country in the military. Memorial Day is also the unofficial (not legally, but informally) start of summer for most people in the U.S., since it comes on the last Monday of May.

Summer is associated with lots of different activities – vacations, going to the beach, picnics, barbeques – but for millions of American boys, summer is all about baseball. (Baseball is also played now by some girls, but most girls prefer to play a similar game called softball, which uses a larger, softer ball.)

When I was a young boy, I, too, wanted to play baseball. I grew up in a family where almost everyone played sports. All of my older brothers – all eight of my older brothers – played some sort of sport, and so I decided very early on that I should learn how to play a sport as well.

So when I was five years old, my father signed me up (registered me; put me on a list) to play what’s called “tee-ball.” Tee-ball (also spelled “T-ball”) is a form of baseball, but unlike regular baseball, there’s no pitcher. (The pitcher in baseball is the guy who throws the ball; the person who tries to hit the ball is called the batter.)

In tee-ball, there’s no pitcher because five-year-old boys can’t throw very far, and you can’t really have a baseball game unless the batter has a ball to hit. So instead of hitting a ball thrown by a pitcher, the batter hits the ball off of what is called a tee, which is a cone or stick that sits on the ground (see photo).

I remember very well my first game of tee-ball, down at Griggs Playground, a small park near my house in St. Paul. In my first at bat (when I first tried to hit the ball), I hit it pretty hard. I ran to first base. My team was happy. My older brother who took me to the game was happy. I was happy. So far, so good.

Later on in the game, when my team was out on the field trying to catch the balls that the other team hit, I was told to play a position call “shortstop,” which is the player who normally stands between second and third base. Like all the players out on the field, the job of the shortstop is to catch the ball if it is hit toward him. What could be easier?

After a couple of batters, one rather large five-year-old on the other team came up to the plate (walked to where the batter stands to hit the ball). He swung his bat (moved the long stick to hit the ball) and hit the ball right at me.

I froze (was unable to move my body). The next thing I remember, the ball hit me right in the face. Bam!

I immediately fell down and started to cry.

The coach (the leader of the team, an adult) came out on the field and asked if I was okay. I told him I certainly was NOT okay. I mean, I didn’t expect this game to be painful.

I told the coach I was quitting, right then and there (at that very moment; immediately). I walked off the field and my brother took me home. That was it – the end of my life in baseball after only a few hours.

I never returned to baseball, and, to be honest, was never very good at any sport when I was a child (or now as an adult). But I still love watching baseball, and plan on spending many hours this summer doing just that. I learned my lesson that it is much less painful watching baseball than actually playing it.


* The title of this post is taken from the title of a well-known book about baseball by the same name.

Image credit: Tee-ball, Wikipedia

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15 Responses to The Boys of Summer*

  1. Dan says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Interesting story, and sorry, but I laughed where you get hit by the ball. I do not know why, but it is cause of amusement to me when kids gets hurt. Not too much though.

    Since I was curious, I virtually visited the baseball field with street view, and I was surprised to see nearby a Como lake in St. Paul. I live not far away from the original.

    There are many tourists from the US over there visiting Bellagio.


  2. peter says:

    Hi chief,
    Man I love your writing style. It is impeccable. Thanks for sharing your childhood memories with us.
    Guess what !!! I feel closer already.
    Thanks boss for let us in.So , to reciprocate I wanna let you in too.
    U know ,now , that we reminiscent here so I figured why not !

    First of all I must say the Part that the ball hit u on the face is hilarious. Specially , the way you vividly narrating it. U juiced it up. :))

    Well , I was a big kid growing up. Not a biggy just some baby fat here or there. :)))

    Well , the extra pounds on me inhibited me to be an active participant in spectator sports. I was always a sideliner 🙂 not even in the bullpen :)) not even once. 🙁

    Sure, I had packed on the pounds but I was not lethargic at all. In fact, as a child , I was this playful kid throwing tantrum every chance I would get. Apparently, I never outgrew it as at the age of 35 I m still as brat as I was at the age of 5:))

    I digress!
    Well , like other kids ,I liked to be a part of the big picture. I wanted to feel involved,to take seriously.
    So , I figured now ,that I m not capable of playing serious sports. Let’s settle down for some less active almost sedentary kind of sport.
    Back then ,I had this preconceived idea that tennis table is as easiest as it can get. I mean how hard could it be. You stay at one end of the table and hit back the balls the opponent strikes at you.
    Therefor , I resorted to tennis ball.
    Boy , could I be more wrong?

    Man , in retrospective, it was poor judgment on my part. As it turns out the damn sport is the most strenuous requiring finesse and agility.literally u must leap to your feat every time the frigging ball coming at you.

    Well , I got skunked at first game. And half way through the second game ,I threw up all over the place. Man ,it was embarrassing!!!
    Needless to say , I forfeited the game.
    Man , it was one the most embarrassing moment of my life.
    Looking back ,man , what I was thinking?



  3. Dan says:

    Hey Pete

    I do not recall any particular event from that period of my life. I think I had an uneventful childhood.

    As a sport I remember playing soccer and little bit of basketball but that was occasionally and it was really a playing and running.

    That by Jeff is a beautiful example of cause and effect. The ball hits Jeff’s face the effect is Jeff stops playing baseball.


  4. peter says:

    Hi Dan
    Thanks for taking time out of your day to read my blubbering about my preteen years.
    Well , I had my moments.
    You know , as I recall, my adolescent time was a comination of mischiefness and bad behaviours. As I m told , I was a bit hypertension :a trouble maker :))
    honestly ,good thing about all those playful misconducts is that I have collected a mental collage of them.
    They crack me up everything I review them in my mind.
    This morning as I was reading Jeff taking us down his memory lane, I rememberd all Those crazy innocence years.

    I got nastolgic!

    Then I thought to share one here with my peers. As a way of redeeming myself for all the trouble I made for my folks :)))

    Thanks Dan

    Just a bunch of rites of passage on the cuts of every stage of my life :))

  5. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    I don’t do sports at all. In my youth I tried to play soccer with my friends. The first moments when I had to get the ball I felt the violence on me. So I gave up to sports.

  6. emiliano says:

    I am not a sport person but even being a young boy it hasppens more or less like Jeff tol us, if I was watching a futball match
    It was frequently that the ball hit my head from time to time.
    So the result was that I decided not to go to watch a sport played with a ball, never, and I have been do since the last fifty years
    or more.

    Some time when I go to the park with Cuca and the girls, the three little girls, I happens also that if there was a group of people,
    boys or adults, playing fuball several times the ball found my head or the body.
    Why?, I don´t really know mat be I hate this playing when takas place in the parks or the beaches where there are people walking
    or taking the sun.
    Even now in the yard of the house there are always children playing with the ball so it is usual that if you are close to the
    swiming pool taking the sun or reading a ball hits you and have to say nothing if you don´t want a quarrel with the neighbors
    who are the parents of the boys.
    Inside me I hate every kind of sport it is playing with a ball because it disturb my relay or my way of understading how it s necessary
    people´s behaviour has to be when they are in company with other.

    The only sport I have done it has been swiming, riding or some tenis being very careful with the small ball not to hit anybody.

    Now I didn´t do any neither watch any too, I always prefer to read, listen to the music, English or just surfing by the web.

    Yes I know I am an odd person having in mind millions are watching tv. futball, baseball, car´s riding, or which ever other kind
    of sport while I have the tv. off.

    Sorry Jeff, I konw you like to watch baseball very much and of course I understand it.

    Greetings, emiliano

  7. emiliano says:

    So many mistakes, an horrible English, sorry my friends it happens when I don´t read
    again my writing before posting it.
    Words are so small than scarcely I could see them typing my thoughts.

    Now it is easier for me just to talk and listen to the English language.

    Sorry again. emiliano

  8. Tania says:

    Hi! I was hopeless for a week as our Internet network did not run. I thought that I could not access our blog.
    Pressing the “listening ” button there was no sound. I went and to the public library with the hope that I could listen to our lessons. The same.
    So I could not listen to our English lessons.

  9. Tania says:

    Hi! I could read the posts instead. I like children, I like their photos, so I like your post on an unhappy event from the life of a little boy.
    But a proverb says that “there are spots even in the sun.”

  10. Tania says:

    Hi! I can’t stand a child in pain. To me it’s something heart-breaking.
    Not anyone can practice a sport. We have to have a special inclination , a rhythm for moving.
    I think that those incline to study just admire the sport and the sportsmen generally.
    I like skating, gym (as my country has many world results ), and recently I like tennis as Simona Halep is the third in the world.

  11. Tania says:

    Hi! In my country it is still spring.
    It’s May. We have a very nice poem “May Night”.

    Come! The nightingale is singing and the lilac is in blooming.
    Nothing that is suave and sweet has not disappeared in this world.
    (my translation)

  12. Tania says:

    But of course, it’s summer time in many other countries.

    Summer time… and the living is easy…

  13. Tania says:

    And ” the sun shines upon all alike”.
    There is a place for everyone, “the sun may do its duty”.

  14. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    What is the matter, Emiliano? Your English skill is not that bad. I understand everything you write, so no matter what.

  15. emiliano says:

    Thank you Aercio, but I know it is not a good English full of mistakes that take form once I have press the button below
    that said “submit comment”.
    The right form to process it would be reading which ever thing I have write but I have not patience enough to do that, even
    some of the words I think on can´t remember the ortographic, so yes it is ususal that I may speak better but even to
    understand sopoken Engllish it could be easier.
    Usually I write a lot in Spanish, very fast endeed, and I would like to do the same in English what is really impossible by
    all means.
    The structure of my writing is complicanted, it is not clear, it is not short, despite I try to reflect all ny sincere way ot

    Tania, right here it is summer already, spring has despair from Madrid or Spain, we pass from cold winter to hot summer
    full of alergies till the point it is difficult to make a walk around.
    It happens the same to me as we have been without internet by four days some how it was good as I have been watching
    some movies and reading a little more.

    Be O.K. friends.


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