Spring = Baseball
posted by Amy

A Little League miracle happened on my street. I'm kidding, but then again I'm not. After days of rain and predictions that it would storm today, we woke up to a blue sky and sunshine. Why does this matter, you ask? Clearly you don't live in River Park, where the annual Little League Opening Day Parade is scheduled to start in just a few moments. (And no, I'm not liveblogging from the baseball diamond; the parade goes by our house, thank god, so all I have to do is go outside and wave. Chip took on the harder task of dressing Henry in the ritual garb of Little Leaguers and went off in the wee hours to decorate the truck.)

Our neighborhood is a true 1950s suburb; our house was built in 1951, as were most of the houses around us. As in any '50s suburb, the natives here worship baseball. Our Little League diamond is a thing of beauty, something I've seen grown men nearly cry over as they take in its perfection. The parade was something we hadn't heard about the first March we lived in our house. All we knew was that we woke up and there was this crazy thing going on: kids in baseball uniforms riding in the backs of trucks and throwing candy (really, really hard) at bystanders. How...retro, we thought. Kids riding in the backs of trucks? Candy? Aren't all these things banned by the Parenting Authorities?

Years later, we're Little League veterans, with two kids playing this year and a third starting next year. (I've still managed to wiggle out of working in the Snack Shack each year, but this year my run ends--Chip has begged me to work with him so we can get our obligatory hours over with in one day.) After years of avoiding baseball, I'm right back where I started.

See, I come from a long line of baseball people. My great-grandfather worked as the ticket taker at Sacramento Solons games, thus insuring that he'd see all their games, as would as least some of his four children. His sons, my grandpa and his little brother, played, coached and watched baseball their whole long lives. In the next two generations, getting your own baseball mitt was a rite of passage for my uncles and for most of us grandchildren--even the girls, which was a step forward for all humankind as far as I can tell.

I never wanted to play, though, which left me sitting on the sidelines for hours while my five brothers and a few of my sisters moved up the levels in the local Little League. Fortunately, cute boys my own age also played, which meant I could just "happen" to walk by the diamond they played at, but mostly I just was bored.

But the parade? Not boring, especially not to my kids, who think riding in the back of a truck and being allowed to throw candy at people is the height of coolness. (The announcement of every single kid's name--every kid in the whole huge league--complete with said player running across home base, however? Boring except for the minute when it's my own kid's name being called.) When I worried aloud about whether we'd have to cancel the parade due to bad weather, my neighbor, who grew up here and is now raising his children in the house he himself grew up in, said with absolute confidence, "It NEVER rains on Opening Day." It turns out that he just might be right about that.