Well, maybe not a “slugger.” More like a clunker.
His pitching is anything but fast, his tiny hands can barely close his glove, let alone catch with it, and he usually forgets to run the bases when his bat finally makes contact with the ball.
No matter. It’s baseball season, and my son is itching to join little league.
Many of my earliest memories involve the sensory experience of spectating baseball, beginning with my older brother’s little league games. The salty tang of ballpark popcorn. The scent of hot dogs filling the air. The decisive crack of a bat. The jingling of chain link fence as players jog out to their field positions. The puffs of dirt enveloping home base. The hard wooden bleachers chipping with decade-old paint.
I revel in stories of my dad and his neighbors playing sandlot baseball as kids and of my grandfather pitching to Babe Ruth while playing for the Dodgers’ minor league team. As a true Massachusetts native, I fell in love with the Red Sox at a young age. I’ll spare the fanfare, but Fenway is one amazing ballpark to call home, and rising and falling with the Red Sox before, during, and after their 2004 World Series win…well, that’s emotion words can’t capture. I’ve listened to Joe Castiglione broadcasting Red Sox games on the radio almost my entire life, and when I hear the wondrous sound of his voice coming across the airwaves after a long New England winter, I am transported to carefree childhood days and know spring has truly arrived.
Thus, ever a sucker for nostalgia, I was thrilled when my son expressed interest in baseball. Whether he ever becomes a slugger or MVP is irrelevant. I can help him fall in love with baseball too, cupping childhood innocence, sunny spring days, and family memories in one hand and passing them along to my own child.
Knowing he couldn’t get by on warm fuzzies alone, I decided my son and I should read some books on baseball prior to the start of his first t-ball season.
Here are a few of the books we enjoyed:
Who’s on First llustrated by John Martz – an adaptation of the classic Abbott and Costello routine
Take Me Out to the Ball Game (book and CD) Illustrated by Amiko Hirao and sung by Carly Simon – an ode to the original song by Jack Norworth
Home Run: The Story of Babe Ruth by Robert Burleigh
The Boys by Jeff Newman
My Baseball Book by Gail Gibbons