Tim’s Opening Day With Liberty Youth Baseball (4/14-15/2012)
It’s time for a different type of game entry: Tim’s first organized baseball (t-ball) action!
This year, Tim is participating in the t-ball program of the brand spanking new, Liberty Youth Baseball (LYB) Little League. Last weekend, Liberty celebrated its Opening Day on Saturday and Tim had his first “game” action on Sunday. It was an absolute blast! Let’s take a look.
It all started at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday with a photo session for the t-ball league. Liberty has approximately 350 kids in its first season. The older kids make up 30+ teams, but the sixty 5-6 year old t-ballers are all just one big group. They’re learning baseball as a group and will split into make-shift “pick up” teams on game days. It seems like a good plan so far. But it made it interesting for the “team photo” — it was the whole t-ball league. They started by lining up in height order:
Looking back at the photos, it looks like Tim was the 8th tallest kid. That’s him above sporting “55” on his back.
Here is the group:
If you click on that picture and find Tim (4th row, 4th from the left), you’ll notice he is making a hilarious face. That boy is too funny.
If one thing can be said about Tim’s personality (well, many things can actually be said about it), it is that Tim is not a follower. Every t-baller (and I imagine every kid in the league) did this standard pose for their individual pictures:
But Tim wasn’t satisfied. He also wanted a “glove” picture. So, as far as I can tell, he was the only kid to get a second picture in his own unique pose:
So look for that basebal card when you’re opening your packs of Topps cards this season.
After pictures, there were games and general clowning around for a while:
And then we all lined up in the parking lot for a little Opening Day Parade. Tim was excited:
We marched through the local streets (can you spot Tim?)…
…around a couple blocks, and then back into the field area through center field:
The Reading Phillies mascot, Screwball, was present and was slapping a whole lotta “fives” in the outfield. Of course, Tim went in for a hug instead of a high five:
The t-ballers were last in line during the parade and when we marched into the infield the rest of the teams were already lined up in dramatic, semi-circular fashion. We joined the group — can you spot us (hint: I am visible, but Tim is not in the following picture)?
They had a nice ceremony on the field, including the presentation of our official Liberty Youth Baseball banner:
Tim has seen a lot of Major League pregames — 116 to be exact as of the time of this Opening Day Ceremony — so he knows what to do during the national anthem and other moments of silence:
After the ceremony, Tim pitched a little “bullpen” to me (with a big rubber bouncy ball that he won at one of the Opening Day carnival games)…
…and Kellan worked on his footwork on the pitching rubber.
Tim’s good buddy, Austin, is also in the t-ball league and they showed off their new digits:
I was proud of Tim for blazing his own trail. I was 99% certain he would pick number 51 for his jersey because Ichiro is his favorite player. But he wanted to do his own thing (maybe he was realizing “51” will be retired by the time he reaches the Mariners!). Five is Tim’s favorite number. He’s always asking to sit in seat number “5” at games. He also likes Tim Lincecum…although, all he knows about Lincecum is (1) his name is Tim, (2) he is from Seattle, and (3) we saw him during BP on his birthday in SF. Anyway, Tim is number 55 and I picked up my own “55” Liberty t-shirt jersey to show my support for my new favorite baseball player.
Tim and I took off after the Opening Ceremony and headed to the Mets at Phillies game (note that we both wore our Liberty shirts at various times during that game). Two more Liberty notes regarding that Phillies/Mets game: (1) we saw another Liberty baseball player at the LF gate before BP and (2) Phillies starting pitcher Vance Worley sponsors one of the teams in the Liberty league.
Anyway, we were right back at it the next day. Sundays are game days and this was Tim’s first.
The kids all stretched and did some drills (disguised as a game of “simon says”) and then we broke into 6 teams. First, each team practiced some hitting and fielding. Each kid cycled through the tee while the rest of his team practiced doing the “alligator chomp” to catch the resulting grounders. A bunch of us dad’s help out with coaching duties. I was pulling double duty, coaching (keep in that atheletic position kids! alligator chomp!) and Tim’s personal baseball documentarian. Tim was the second to last hitter on his team. On his first swing…
…he blasted a line drive over the other 7 kids and into the bushes down the RF line. He then blasted a bunch of grounders that all found holes in the “defense.” I caught most of them behind the line of fielders, and a couple of them resulted in a big chase:
After the final batter took his hacks, we faced off against another team for two extended innings in Tim’s first “game.” The rules were drastically modified. This was all about getting the kids playing the game and figuring out what they’re supposed to be doing. The rules: all nine batters hit each inning. If you got a runner out at first (or another base), who cares. They just stayed on base so they could get some experience running bases. Everyone just took one base per at bat, except the last batter each inning who just got to run until the cows came home…or until they got the ball to homeplate to stop him from scoring.
Guess who was the first last batter? You guessed it: Tim.
His number worked to his advantage because we had them bat in numerical order and his “55” ranked him as the highest number:
So, the cards were stacked in his favor…the plan was to just keep running, but Tim hit a *legit* t-ball grand slam — his hard grounder zipped past all of the fielders and into deep RCF. I took a video of his at bat. Here are some screen shots….
…and the follow through:
Tim has practiced running a homerun about 80,000 times in our backyard. I had to yell, “Don’t pass him! Don’t pass him!” as Tim motored toward home on the heals of his teammate:
In true Tim fashion, with the ball just being relayed to second base, Tim slid into home, touching the plate about a quarter of a second after his teammate.
I don’t know much about t-ball. I certainly didn’t realize where all the balls would be hit. But it ended up that Tim picked the prime positions. In the bottom of the first inning, he played pitcher and fielded probably 4-5 of the 9 batted balls:
I must admit, it was incredibly exciting when Tim and the first basemen combined to successfully throw at least one runner out at first — a lot has to go right for that to happen in your first inning of organized t-ball!
In his second at bat, Tim put a nice swing on the ball…
…and made it safely to first.
Tim steadfastly denies this (although he has no alternate explanation), but it sure looks like he was calling himself “save” a step before hitting first base…
…with the right fielders still en route to retrieve the baseball. Just for kicks, Tim kept sliding into every base, completely unnecessarily:
By the way, Kellan was “coaching” with me in the outfield during the second inning…
…and at just shy of 2-years-old, he was roughly the same height as one of Tim’s teammates. Kellan’s a big boy!
In the second inning, Tim played second base and, again, ended up fielding 4-5 of the other teams’ 9 batted balls:
In our back yard, Tim has always loves hitting, hitting and more hitting. He hardly wants to play catch. But, man oh man, was he having a great time playing defense at his game — which I really loved to see. Between plays when he would catch (or smother and pick up) a grounder, he would do an exaggerated celebratory dance.
As the second baseman, Tim actually showed good baseball instincts. We were telling everyone to simply throw the ball to first, but he kept wanting to throw to second base (which is hard because the short stop didn’t realize what was going on and was never covering the bag — and no one except Tim was expecting him to do so.
The defensive highlight of the day was a bouncing ball hit toward second base. Tim ran to his right and cut off the ball. It bounced almost head level and Tim snared it out of the air, and ran down the runner heading to second base. Actually, the two of them ran right by the base…
…and Tim tagged him coming and going. It was a pretty cool play to watch.
After the game, Tim asked, “Who won?” He wasn’t very satisfied with the answer that we didn’t keep score. But, as they say, it was the “having fun” part that counted, and Tim definitely had a lot of fun, and so did I.
And that is the story of Tim’s first Opening Day and t-ball game.
That is a Ken Griffey, Jr. whiffle bat that looks just like Griff’s real bat. If you were to visit our house, chances are that Kellan would unintentionally swing that sucker into your shins. That boy swings bats and walks around with his glove on his hand constantly. Yep, he’s my boy too.