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Baseball is still a game for kids

June 15, 2012
By BOB WHITED , Tribune Chronicle |
The game of baseball has been around for more than 150 years in this country, and it has been called our national pastime. Through the years, it evolved into a professional sport that produces much revenue and is a very expensive endeavor for the fans to attend. Ticket prices, concession prices and parking fees are at an all-time high. Players’ salaries have also skyrocketed beyond reason. We still love to attend this grand old sport and eat those delicious $6 hot dogs and wash them down with those $7 beers and $4 sodas. Are we all nuts for doing this? It still is summertime’s entertainment as we root for the home team and get caught up in the pennant races. Presently, the Pirates and the Indians are doing very well, and who knows? Perhaps a turnpike World Series. Am I dreaming? But there are several other ways to enjoy this great sport with much less expense, much less traffic, and fewer other complications. In the spring, there are high school games, college games that won’t be expensive and our own Mahoning Valley Scrappers, which is baseball and entertainment at its best. The players at these games have not yet developed the smell for money and high salaries. They play good baseball. Did I forget something? Oh, yes — what about attending Little League games? There, my dear friends, you will find the very heart and soul of baseball. It may be called by many other new classifications and age groups but still involves kids, and it also includes girls’ leagues as well. The kids put out the very best effort they have. Little League itself got started way back in 1938 in Williamsport, Pa. Since then, Williamsport has had its very own Little League World Series during the summer. This was one of the greatest inventions ever — organizing the youth to play a sport with all their own rules. The managers and coaches steer these kids not only to be better athletes, but also to be good sportsmen and practice fair play. Now, I have played a lot of baseball and have managed and coached and had two sons who went through the different phases and leagues. It was exciting, and it can make you very proud as a parent. I was always involved. Now as a senior citizen, with no strings attached, my wife and I have been attending our 7-year-old grandson, Ethan’s, games. And that pride returns I have followed baseball most of my life and have seen all the major league stars including Mantle, Mays, Clemente and Aaron perform, as well as the more modern day stars, and always got a big thrill at watching their greatness and abilities. But when you see your grandson getting into the batting box with a picturesque stance and lashing the first pitch right up the middle and then running like a rabbit toward first base … that, to me, is also a great thrill. Even though they may lose with a lop-sided score. Of course, there are team mothers and fathers who also contribute much of their time and constantly practice with their sons or daughters at home and help with other chores regarding their respective teams. Hats off to those managers, coaches and parents. These particular kids may someday gain fame themselves and become great athletes as they go through all the phases in whatever sport they choose. Hopefully though, they never forget those early days when they were very excited to just be a part of a team effort and played a game that was truly meant for kids.


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