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Daddy Talk: Dugouts and Sunflower Seeds

By Tim Krason

Because of some fluke in the cut-off dates for Little League baseball this year, my two boys—though they are nearly two years apart—are in the same age category. And, fortunately, in our league, that means they are placed on the same team. This situation has never happened to us before, and my wife and I were pretty thrilled when we found out about it! Imagine going to only one baseball practice on practice days! Imagine having only a single game on game nights! It’s like a dream world, the equivalent of receiving an eighth day in our week.

Of course, as soon as my wife and I got excited about the prospect of dealing with only one team this spring, our next logical thought was to question the relief that we were feeling about the situation. “I wonder,” we thought, “if having them on the same team will actually be a good thing after all.” Would they compete with one another instead of being teammates? Would they bicker in the dugout and on the field like they bicker at home? Is it possible to have a bench-clearing brawl in a Little League game where the two instigators are actually members of the same team and also happen to be brothers? I haven’t seen it happen, but it’s only a matter of time. But certainly an embarrassing brawl between siblings would be a small price to pay for the convenience of attending fewer events.

When we arrived at the first baseball practice, though, I was reminded of the madness that is boys baseball. The structure and discipline of a small military operation is required to pull off an effective practice for seven-year olds. Fortunately for us, the coaches that my boys were assigned appear to have such structure. The ease with which they moved these kids through hitting and fielding drills was startlingly fluid, almost as if they had it planned it out.

I was excited enough about the boys’ team that I lost my head completely, threw in an offer to “help” the real coaches, and promptly earned the title of dugout supervisor during our first scrimmage game. Either I don’t have the organizational skills of the rest of the coaching crew or Little League dugouts are special places set apart from the natural order. In the dugout, kids—including my own—who look completely competent on the field start losing their marbles completely. They’re rolling in the dirt, beating the fence with their bats, slapping each other’s helmets, climbing the walls, pouring their water bottles out on the ground, and committing any number of illogical acts.

But the dugout supervisor really only has one job: make sure the right kid is ready to bat at the right time. And I’ll tell you that this job, once one is immersed in the dugout itself, is a little more difficult than you would guess. Invariably, the other coaches will look up to see that no one is standing in the batter’s box. And when they glance over to see who’s in charge in the dugout, they see someone like me, sitting in a puddle of water and covered with sunflower seed shells, trying to read a line-up card while three boys are hanging like monkeys from the dugout ceiling.

About The Author

Tim Krason

Tim Krason grew up in Tupelo, MS, and settled in the Jackson area after studying at Mississippi College. He has been married to Ashley for 10 years, and they live in Clinton with their three children. Tim teaches English at Hinds Community College in Raymond and has been writing the Daddy Talk column for several years.

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