My 12-year son loves to bat. He loves to connect with the ball (what kid doesn’t) and, although he isn’t quick, he wears an irrepressible smile whenever he gets on base. However, there’s one thing about hitting that my 12-year son doesn’t like.
He doesn’t like batting last.
For those of you that don’t have kids in baseball, every kid gets to bat (at least they do in our league). It doesn’t mean they all play in the field at the same time. Usually, each team has ten or eleven kids. The kids can start the game, switch positions, sit out an inning, and then go back on the field. Along with this set-up, the batting line-up includes every kid on the team.
However, having started later in playing the game and having an uncoordinated father, my son has perennially been seen as a weak hitter. This means he’s often stuck at the end of a line-up. Games are limited to 90 minutes and, with kids pitching, innings can take a long time. Though the games are planned for five innings, it’s not unusual to have a game where the kids are lucky to get three innings in. It’s in games like these that the kids who bat at the bottom of a line-up only get one at-bat in a game. I’ve lost count of how many times my son was scheduled to bat in the following inning, only to have the game called.
Last Friday night was one of those situations. My 12-year old’s team nearly went through the order in the first inning. He was standing in the on-deck circle when the kid in front of him struck out. My son batted first in the second inning and struck out, but the team managed to bat around. He was scheduled to open the third inning and wanted redemption. But my son’s team was the Home team. Ninety minutes had elapsed by the end of the top half of the third inning (when the Visiting team bats). My son’s team was leading and the umps called the game. He was happy that his team won, but disappointed he only got one shot.
On Sunday, he ran up to me excitedly. “Dad, I’m batting 7th.” He knew what it meant, more opportunity. He went 0 for 1 with strike out and scored a run. I was proud of him for coaxing a walk after being down 0-2 in his second at-bat. The game got through four innings. Like many times prior, he was the next batter when the last inning was over. His team won again, but I thought he’d be disappointed being stranded once again in the on-deck circle.
He just looked at me and flashed a rueful smile. “I almost got up there a third time.”
“If you want to stay up there, you need to keep hitting,” I told him.
Hopefully, he will.