Finding a few lessons on the baseball field

When I asked our children whether they wanted to play soccer again this fall, I was relieved when they both said no. Last year I felt like a failure as a soccer mom, forgetting to sign up for snack, losing shin guards, and dreading Saturdays full of games, games, and more games.
But baseball? It’s a whole different story. I have not complained once about baseball this spring.
Maybe it’s because most of the season has been rained out, and our son missed three weeks with an injury.
Maybe it helps that these balmy spring evenings are so much more pleasant than the cold, damp days I spent on the sidelines of the soccer field.
Maybe it’s because our little guy is just so cute in his baseball uniform.
But I think what I love is that even though baseball is hard, the children throw themselves into it—and they are so happy to keep trying again and again.

These little boys are 4-6. They have so much to learn. And that’s the best part. Most of the time they swing and miss. Then when they do hit the ball, the whole team just stands there, marveling at how the ball is moving through the air.
Then the ball drops out of the sky, and the players who are paying attention look around to see who might go get it. When someone finally does, he’ll probably throw it the right way, but it will still fall short or sail over the first baseman’s head. That’s fine, of course, because the batter hasn’t started running anyway.
Don’t even get me started on the little boys who are building dirt castles on the diamond or kicking clouds of dust just to see how far the wind will carry it.
No wonder this is America’s pastime. As I sit on a bench and cheer these little boys on, I marvel at how often they fail—and yet how they keep coming back for more, trying over again to do better. Baseball requires such optimism. And these kids are full of that.
Soccer was a free-for-all. The children could feel they were contributing even if they never actually kicked the ball.
But baseball? In baseball it’s clear that they aren’t hitting or fielding or running or scoring, and yet they show up again and again.

They fail, fail, fail, yet try again with a smile. How can you not love that?
If only we could take a young baseball player’s approach to life. We could swing and miss dozens of pitches. Then when we get a hit, we might run the wrong way. But we could run back onto the field with a smile and faith that the next time we’ll do better.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.