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I finished up my 2015 baseball season yesterday with my youngest son and his Wickford Little League teammates. Our team has been up and down this season but we finished with a strong performance yesterday. Down by 2 runs with one last at bat, we came back with 4 runs to overtake our opponent, then my son closed it out with 3 strikeouts to end the game and secure a win for Wickford Little League. It was a true team effort, with everyone contributing hits, defense, pitching and above all, enthusiasm for the game of baseball. And, with just 9 players available, Wickford made the most of it and the players played great. Parents, friends of players, families all cheered loudly for theirs and others on a somewhat chilly early Fall afternoon.
I have been a fan of baseball since, well, I can remember. I watched games, I practiced with intent on becoming a professional ball player. I poured through baseball cards, reading stats, and learning player’s names and teams from the minor leagues. I went to school sometimes with a baseball, so in between classes I could hold the ball on the two seams or across the seams or “palm” it like throwing a changeup. I would watch players prepare in the field, infielders position themselves, outfielders get ready for a long fly ball, catchers calling out plays, pitchers tipping the cap to the shortstop to let him know he had the bag on a groundball back to him. To me, baseball is many parts physical but at its core – a thinking game.
I would encourage any parent of a Wickford Little League player to inspire their child to be a baseball fan. Baseball is a great spectator sport. If you have the time, take your son or daughter to a game where older kids are playing. Let them watch and dream of the day they will be on the Majors field, pitching in a district championship. Or, in the batter’s box with both stands filled with fans cheering and screaming as you come to the plate with your team down by a run in the bottom of the 7th inning. Point out the older players and how they get into position on every play and cheer on their teammates and are active in the games. Take them to a minor league baseball game here in Pawtucket or an Ocean State Waves game. Let them witness how these player prepare for every pitch, every at bat. Being a fan of baseball will make you a better baseball player. I am proof of that. I was not the athlete my brother and sister were growing up, but my love of the game of baseball helped me tremendously.
There are a lot of great young athletes in Wickford Little League, especially on my team this fall. I had soccer players, hockey players, flag and tackle football players. I believe that the athletic talent in North Kingstown is outstanding and I can only hope this group of kids continue with baseball. Being a fan of the game of baseball will help propel a naturally gifted athlete to even great heights of success. If you child participated in Wickford Little League, I applaud you for supporting your child in a game that has brought my family a lot of joy and happiness.
See you at the ballpark next season.