Thursday, October 03, 2013

Boys and Baseball

Last night we drove into town for dinner and an interview that I was asked to do. A former Little League player of mine had to interview some coaches for a school project. During the interview he asked what one of my fondest memories was of coaching. I couldn't think of anything. Well, that's sort of true. I did but didn't think it proper to say it. The first memory that came to mind was from the 2011 season. I was standing on the mound throwing batting practice to the team and out of all the chaotic noise and laughter I hear a 11 year old voice from centerfield razzing my second baseman of equal age, "Billy's got a boner. Billy's got a boner. Billy's got a boner." I tuned into listen. The two of them proceeded to razz each other for a bit then let it rest. During the exchange I fought back the impulse a few times to tell them that they'd better put a lid on it. After all, there were parents around, and what kind of coach would let this go on at his practice? I persevered, though. I silenced the voices, buried the impulse, and smiled.

I don't know why it's one of my fondest memories but it is. Atleast it was the first one out of many that came to mind last night. I remember returning home after practice on that chilly spring evening and looking up this quote by Dostoyevsky:

"There are 'certain' words and conversations unhappily to eradicate in schools....Boys, pure in mind and heart, are fond of talking....of images of which even soldiers would sometimes hesitate to speak....There is no moral depravity...but there is the appearance of it, and it is often looked upon among them as something refined, subtle, daring and worthy of imitation."

My centerfielder's razzing chant and the exchange that followed was nothing close to what " even soldiers would sometimes hesitate to speak," but I knew it was a start. I'm glad I silenced the internal voices that evening. They were on their way to becoming young men.

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