The seasons change in Maine bring new activities in our many small communities, villages and handful of cities.
Little leaguers parked on a post office steps, outside a popular diner or grocery store in uniforms. Full of hope for a shot at the season town title.
Some returning from a winter off.
Others brand new and worried about striking out, getting hit by a bean ball pitcher.
Or their parents are. Most players are just glad to have made the team. Buttoned up that team uniform this morning before getting the tags to hand out to sport booster donators. The tags to show contribution made. They have already “paid” so they are not swarmed at another Saturday morning stop while running errands around a Maine town.
The matching color uniformed individuals on the team laughing, working the crowd, fielding the donations. Occassionally getting a large contribution stuffed in the can.
Like hitting the cycle because that older gentlemen who has to struggle to get in to his rusted Ford pick up was a coach.
He remembers those inside the park home runs, game winners. Giving the kid who whacked it the game ball to wake up to on his night stand or clothes bureau every day for the rest of his childhood.
Back when his grown son or daughter wasn’t so tall, lived at home. Those days with racing to games, getting kids to practice if you ddidn’t live close enough for them to ride their bikes are the best years of a family’s life.
Laughter in the home, excitement in the back yard as if it was Fenway Park.
It is. Kinda, sorta. On a slightly much smaller scale without the hot dog and beer vendors. Or high paid celebrity salaries and larger than life egos.
I have sponsored a local team since 1983. Am some kind of proud of the Maine little league players, their coaches, the fans, parents, famliy. They have an expense account at the local dairy bar, win or lose. Just try your best, make sure to have fun, and work hard to improve. To come from behind working as a team to win a close one in extra innings. The game you went in to with the other team, a little part of yourself thinking this is going to be a blood bath, shellacking. And it is not. That’s little league when every kid contributes. Not just the star pitcher in this week’s rotation. Or the coach’s kid who started learing the game being talked to while in the womb.
Sometimes the game is played in the stands too. Hooting, hollering, proud of the team you came to cheer on, root for. Spring is coming, dig deep in to put money in the can to keep the program a live, running strong. It is an America tradition on the most intimate, personal scale with local little league stars you know. Live down the street from.