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Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Baseball Question of the Day: What’s your best Little League war story?

Today’s question is open-ended: what’s your best Little League war story? Or Babe Ruth or high school baseball war story. Or softball war story. Or even your best sandlot war story. Basically, I want to hear about your greatest baseball (loosely defined) triumphs and tragedies.

I played Little League and Babe Ruth baseball and, as I have said in the past, I was not very good. My enthusiasm got me through age 15 or so, but my talent was never really there. I never hit a big home run. I probably only had one or two defensive plays that were notable. My absolute highlight as far as displaying good baseball skills go was the time when my Babe Ruth team was facing a pitcher who had an unusually good-for-the-ninth-grade breaking ball. He was mowing my team down. My third time up I just decided to turn my brain off, guess breaking ball and swing where he kept leaving it out of the zone. I got lucky and connected for a double, after which I told everyone on the team how I had “made an adjustment” or some such crap. As far as highlights go that wasn’t much, frankly. It was all I had.

My best baseball memory, though, goes back to Little League.

I’ve never played baseball in anything resembling an organized setting- how about all of you?

 

QLE Posted: April 01, 2020 at 12:44 AM | 59 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: little league, questions

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   1. Starring RMc as Bradley Scotchman Posted: April 01, 2020 at 07:17 AM (#5935426)
I'm pretty sure my Little League WAR was negative.
   2. PreservedFish Posted: April 01, 2020 at 07:30 AM (#5935429)
I was an above average LL player for my community - I was a good defensive 2B/SS that was fast and both walked and struck out a lot - but I didn't create any legendary moments.

My best friend, however, had the game-winning RBI in the championship game. This was our first year, so we were the youngest and the worst players, and somehow he ended up at the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the big game. To add even more interest to the moment, he was facing his cousin, who was older and one of the best players in the league. The coach did not mince words: "If you swing I'll ####### kill you." He did not swing, watched 6 pitches go by, and made sports history. I am confident that it was his greatest athletic achievement.
   3. SoSH U at work Posted: April 01, 2020 at 08:29 AM (#5935440)
This one's easy. I was playing center for a Senior Babe Ruth team (ages 16-18) as a 16-year-old. It was my first time playing center, but when a buddy of mine (who later played a couple of seasons in the minors) showed up for tryouts, we noticed the team was lacking in outfielders so we decided to tell the coaching staff that was where we played. I ended up starting in center and he started in left.

I was having a really good season with the glove already, when we had a midseason Sunday afternoon at our home field. Our field was constructed on an old track, which left a super short porch in right stretching out to basically no fence in center and left. Despite that, I played a very shallow center, modeling myself after Tris Speaker (I imagine I was the only guy on any of the Babe Ruth teams that knew Spoke, let alone that he was famous for playing a shallow center field).

The team we were playing had a lefthanded batter up and he launched a ball directly over my head to sraightaway center. I took off running straight back, my back directly facing home. After a while, I figured the ball had to be coming down by now and looked directly over my head, not over either shoulder. I saw the ball was pretty much right above my head, I reached out in front of me and caught it about two feet above the ground, still on a dead sprint.

I fired it back, not even reaching the middle infielders because I really didn't have the arm for center. I watched as the third base coach held up both hands to tell the runner to stop because the ball had been caught and the batter fling his helmet back to the dugout in disgust.

At the end of the inning, the opposing coach came over to me and said, "Young man, that was the greatest catch I've ever seen." I replied, "Me too."

   4. PreservedFish Posted: April 01, 2020 at 08:49 AM (#5935444)
After a while, I figured the ball had to be coming down by now

Best part right here.

Great story!
   5. Nasty Nate Posted: April 01, 2020 at 09:30 AM (#5935451)
I wore Chris Sabo-style sports goggles for a few seasons as a kid.
   6. catomi01 Posted: April 01, 2020 at 09:41 AM (#5935454)
I'm pretty sure my Little League WAR was negative.


I think mine is positive if you apply a very friendly positional adjustment for catcher, and weigh defense heavily. I could catch and throw way above my level, and I was good at pitch framing at levels where if the ball didn't bounce and wasn't actually in the batter's box, it was a strike. So my defense definitely would've graded out well.

My bat...would not. Let's just say I got very used to sacrifice bunting later on once games got more competitive.

Baserunning - slow as a wounded snail...but I was usually smart about it...don't think I every actually got tagged out through Little League, and picked up a few stolen bases later on at the high school level. I was slow, but smart enough to know when to take a chance.

War story - two parts, same season - probably around 7-8 years old I guess. Batting, pitcher throws what seems like a blazing fastball straight (in reality no faster or slower than any other 7/8 year old) at me. Spin my back into it like I was taught and it drills me right on the lower spine. I collapse and just assume my back is broken and I'm paralyzed for ever. I think I spent about 5 minutes on the ground before the coach convinced me that I could in fact still walk.

Part 2 - catching, waiting for a throw in front at the plate, I must have drifted into the baseline, because the runner trucked me...slammed my head against homeplate...and repeated the death scene for about 10 minutes this time. Don't know if I actually had a concussion or anything that time, but they made me stay out of the game the rest of the day, so I don't think my reaction were as over-exaggerated that time.
   7. catomi01 Posted: April 01, 2020 at 09:45 AM (#5935456)
Actually competent warstory, and probably highlight of my youth career, because its when I realized I actually was pretty good at the whole catching thing. 16-17 years old I guess, and I was the main catcher on our travel team - meaning I got about 60-70 percent of the starts...but I got to catch every inning of our best pitcher - kid was throwing in the 80's, good breaking ball, good (for the level) command, etc. One game..he's mowing people down, ton of strikeouts, couple of walks, but a no-hitter through 5 or so. In the sixth, with one out, he shakes me off for the first time...and gives up a hit on the next pitch. Came up to me between innings and said, I am absolutely never shaking you off again.
   8. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: April 01, 2020 at 10:33 AM (#5935465)
I’ve got three;

1. My 9 year old season. I was the catcher in our 9-10 year old league and we made the finals. Our star pitcher got sick so we had to dig deep to find a pitcher but Shawn M pitched a great game and we went to the final inning up 8-3. Sure enough our opponent rallied and it was 8-6 with the bases loaded and two outs and their star came to the plate. He hit a rocket to the gap that scored three runs to give them the lead (we were the home team). People were going crazy, kids on our side were crying, I threw my mask. Then I heard my father (our coach) yell “throw it to Joey!” They threw me the ball and he told me to step on the plate. I did and the ump called the first runner out for missing the plate and giving us the championship.

I’m torn. Obviously as a 9 year old I was excited, we were champs! But looking back I feel so bad for the kid who missed the plate. I also feel bad for the 14 year old ump who made the call (his brother was actually a teammate, hey let’s make this awkward). That’s a tough thing to do and the other team coaches and parents went ballistic. They had to be physically restrained. It got pretty ugly but as a kid I was just excited we won but I feel for the kid who missed the plate.

2. This is better. The next year I was catcher again. Anyway, due to a rainout we played the last game on a Saturday (weird for our league) and when we won we forced a one game playoff to decide the division winner who went to the playoff. My father and our other coach had three of us warm up to decide who would pitch and despite having pitched only once all year our other coach insisted I be the one to get the ball (my father later told me he had to be talked into it). For once in my life I pitched great. Our center fielder Scott made a knee slide catch for the second out in the last inning of a 5-4 game and then I struck out the last kid and jumped as high as I’ve ever jumped into my father’s arms.

3. Last one. When I was 12, actually 8 days before my 11th birthday, I was playing on a travel team. This time I was coached by someone who wasn’t my father but my parents, brother and cousin were at the game. Among other things it was my parents’ 14trh anniversary. Anyway, in the middle of the game I hit a little dribbler that rolled just foul and as I ran past first base I slipped and fell on my ass. I ran back to the plate and all my teammates were laughing at me from the first base dugout.

That’s not important. However, what is relevant is that it’s the last thing I remember for several minutes. The next pitch slammed into my face breaking my left orbital bone and knocking me out. I was told later that blood was coming from my eye and nose. My father got to me quickly and my friend John said “you just looked at him and said dad, I’m in pain” then went back to sleep for a few seconds. Then my mother wouldn’t let me ride in the ambulance but insisted on driving me (she may have been a bit hysterical) and we got stuck in a traffic jam so I was grumpy from getting hit, being stuck in traffic AND not getting to ride in an ambulance. Three weeks later I got my first pair of glasses and my parents still joke that their 14th anniversary is their most memorable.
   9. Itchy Row Posted: April 01, 2020 at 10:59 AM (#5935481)
LaTroy Hawkins started against us one time in high school and I got a hit and lined out my first two times up. I think it was his senior year, and he was a local bigshot. I went into my third at bat thinking either he wasn't as good as everybody else thought or I was better than everybody thought. He got two strikes on me in the third AB and then threw a pitch that came in about 700 MPH but that I could tell would be outside. About ten feet in front of the plate, the ball stopped in midair for a few seconds, moved over two feet, and then resumed its speed and went right down the middle. As I walked back to the dugout, I realized that, if pitchers could do that, I probably wouldn't get drafted by the White Sox like I'd been planning. It's pretty much been downhill since then. Thanks, LaTroy.
   10. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: April 01, 2020 at 11:08 AM (#5935484)
9 - That’s good stuff. My best friend batted against Jason Bere in high school. He went 0 for 3, two Ks and a weak grounder to the mound. He says the grounder to the mound was the best at bat of his life.
   11. PreservedFish Posted: April 01, 2020 at 11:12 AM (#5935487)
Then I heard my father (our coach) yell “throw it to Joey!” They threw me the ball and he told me to step on the plate. I did and the ump called the first runner out for missing the plate and giving us the championship.

I’m torn. Obviously as a 9 year old I was excited, we were champs! But looking back I feel so bad for the kid who missed the plate. I also feel bad for the 14 year old ump who made the call (his brother was actually a teammate, hey let’s make this awkward).


This is pretty awful for everyone involved, IMO.
   12. dejarouehg Posted: April 01, 2020 at 11:21 AM (#5935490)
Had the second strongest and least accurate arm in my entire league. Coaches couldn't trust me to pitch and were looking for places to hide me in the field. One mistake was putting me at 3B. I remember cleanly fielding a ball and promptly clearing the 1B by enough to land on a windshield some distance behind him. Good news is I developed accuracy in time to throw with my college pitcher son.....but it was a rough 30+ years.

Good Health to All.

Worst part of LL was the team names were all named after birds. We all wanted to have the names of MLB teams, which of course, they adopted a few years later.
   13. SoSH U at work Posted: April 01, 2020 at 11:30 AM (#5935492)
Worst part of LL was the team names were all named after birds. We all wanted to have the names of MLB teams, which of course, they adopted a few years later.


We were all named after Native American tribes (I played on the Apache, Hopi and Huron).

Remarkably, 40 years later, they still are. I guess they don't want to fight the backlash from the various long-time fans of the Cortlandt National Little League Cherokee Majors or the Seneca Minors over in the AL on the other side of town.

Best Little League WAR story: Stealing home three times in the same game (and true stolen bases, not passed balls/wild pitches). I would take a good lead, then take off when the catcher threw the ball back to the pitcher or the pitcher threw the ball over to third. We had a season-long competition (with that same friend mentioned above) to see who could get the most legit stolen bases.
   14. Itchy Row Posted: April 01, 2020 at 11:33 AM (#5935493)
Worst part of LL was the team names were all named after birds. We all wanted to have the names of MLB teams, which of course, they adopted a few years later.
I was lucky enough to play in leagues with teams named after MLB teams, so it was always exciting to get your uniform and see who wore that number on your team. My first team was the 1984 Orioles, and I got #4. Tragically for nine-year-old me, they didn't have a #4 that year. Apparently it was Earl Weaver's number, but he didn't manage in 1984. The next year I was #12 on the Padres and I was thrilled to find out I did have a major league counterpart now, the great Mario Ramirez.
   15. PreservedFish Posted: April 01, 2020 at 11:35 AM (#5935494)
I feel like we weren't allowed to steal in that manner. You couldn't take a lead, at least not until the pitch was delivered. With all the dropped balls and bad throws, if I was on first base, I'd be on third within a few pitches anyway.
   16. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: April 01, 2020 at 11:41 AM (#5935496)
somehow he ended up at the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the big game.

All my best moments in LL were reserved for practices. Once the games started, I couldn't hit for #### in the two years I played LL (3rd and 4th grade). My most memorable moment -- not to be confused with my best moment -- was striking out on 3 pitches with two outs and the bases loaded to end a game that we would have won had I been able to get the bat on the ball, but at least it was just a regular season game.

My best moment was in college softball intramural play. Playing catcher (because I didn't want to have to run). One out, runner on 3rd. Batter flies out to center, and the guy in CF unleashes a throw out of the video archives of Bo Jackson or Jesse Barfield. I can hear it coming from around the time it passed 2nd base and it was on a direct line to my face. If I would have missed it or it tore through the pocket of my glove, it would have killed me. Anyway, I make the catch (preserving my life), turn to straddle the baseline, and BOOM the runner immediately knocks me flat onto my back. From a cloud of dust, I hold up my glove with the ball in it, umpire calls OUT, I give the ball a Pete Rose-like spike on home plate, and run back to the bench amid a bunch of high fives from my team.

Worst part of LL was the team names were all named after birds. We all wanted to have the names of MLB teams,

Our teams were all named after MLB teams, but no logos. In my case, just "RED SOX" in plain white letters on the front of a red T-shirt with an ad for a local car dealer on the back. And thus, how I ended up a Red Sox fan despite never having lived in New England (my LL was in suburban Cleveland in the mid-70's.... not exactly an era of glory for the local team) or having any family members who were big fans.
   17. Nasty Nate Posted: April 01, 2020 at 11:47 AM (#5935498)
All our teams were just named after the local business (or even politician) who sponsored us. It was lame.
   18. SoSH U at work Posted: April 01, 2020 at 11:47 AM (#5935499)
You couldn't take a lead, at least not until the pitch was delivered.


We couldn't lead that way either. We had to wait for the catcher to throw the ball back to the pitcher, or for someone to try to pick us off.
   19. Jaack Posted: April 01, 2020 at 11:50 AM (#5935501)
I was pretty incomprehensibly bad at nearly everything to do with playing baseball, with the lone exception of fouling off pitches. Which is, in theory, not the worst skill, but I was never going to put the ball in play, so I mostly just prolonged the suffering of all the adults in attendance.

One game, I was the last batter up, and proceeded to foul off about 14 straight pitches, before the umpire gave me exactly three pitches before calling the game. I don't actually remember if struck out or hit one into play, but the best assumption is that I just fouled all three off.
   20. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: April 01, 2020 at 12:15 PM (#5935507)
The missed the plate thing happened to my son's 9-10 yo all star team in the district championship. They were on the wrong end of it. Except the kid didn't miss the plate and I have video to prove it.
   21. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: April 01, 2020 at 12:20 PM (#5935512)
I played on a little league team with the son of Woody Durham, the lead broadcaster for UNC sports for 40 years. Woody was a local legend and the most beloved man in Chapel Hill. One game the son was batting after me and in the on deck circle, which was sort of behind the first base coach's box. I swung way late on a pitch and lined the ball off of Woody's son's head. This was with an aluminum bat on a little league field with 60 foot basepaths so the ball got on him instantly and knocked him out. A very concerned Woody came out onto the field (wearing a suit) and it was an ugly scene for a while. Eventually the son came to and was fine, but for a while I thought I'd killed the guy. My dad said that the whole time he was thinking, "We have to be past the city limits by sundown."

That same year there was the guy on my team who got called out on the bases for touching a ball in play, when he went halfway off of second on a popup and then dithered around until the ball came down and landed on his head.

Oh yeah, in one season I both drove in a winning run with a HBP and allowed a winning run by hitting a batter.
   22. Nasty Nate Posted: April 01, 2020 at 12:25 PM (#5935517)
I peaked at age 10 as the star SS/P, and was the 2nd best player in the league. We lost the championship to the team with the best player in the league. He blasted a grand slam off me to straight away center.
   23. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: April 01, 2020 at 12:29 PM (#5935518)
I was a pretty good outfielder, but I drove my manager to distraction by insisting on making catches one-handed. One playoff game, with a kid or two in scoring position, the batter sent a sinking line drive to right quite a few feet in front of me & I somehow ran up & caught it, ending the inning. Not that it would've been a one-handed catch situation anyway, but after that I don't believe I ever heard another word about the proper form & my failure to employ it.

The position I always wanted to play was first. When I finally got the chance because the regular starter was away at church camp, I touched a ball in play only once all game -- a high infield fly (that I should've ceded to the second baseman, but so it goes). At least I caught it. One-handed!

   24. catomi01 Posted: April 01, 2020 at 12:37 PM (#5935521)
All our teams were just named after the local business (or even politician) who sponsored us. It was lame.


We had the same thing. My mom worked for Chemical Bank, and got them to sponsor us most of my LL career. When I was 12, the coach owned his own company and sponsored us, but was just as tired of the standard issue "West Islip Little League" shirts, and then a trucker hat with the sponsor name in generic lettering, so he decided to get us real jerseys. He was a Braves fan, so we got jerseys and hats that were a pretty close facsimile of the real thing. Best season ever, and getting #10 cemented Chipper as my favorite Brave.

He also promised us jackets if we won the championship, which we did. I am still waiting on my jacket though.
   25. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: April 01, 2020 at 12:42 PM (#5935526)
Our teams were all named after MLB teams, but no logos.
Our teams were MLB teams without logos as well. The age 9-10 league teams were all AL teams, the 11-12 league teams were all NL. Junior Circuit and Senior Circuit.
   26. michaelplank has knowledgeable eyes Posted: April 01, 2020 at 01:00 PM (#5935536)
A nothing Little League game between two bad teams, 15ish year olds. But it's a good game, back and forth, sloppy, lots of action, and a lot of the kids on both teams knew each other from school and other sports.

Late in the game, their batter, a big, athletic kid (wrestler, I think, never knew him to be much of a baseball player) drills a ball deep to right center field, drives home a couple of runners to give them the lead. Mass commotion as both runners fly home, our defense scrambles for the ball.

I'm playing third base and this is an easy triple. I watch the relay throw come in but there isn't going to be a play, he beats the throw by 10, 15 feet. But he's excited and he slides in hard, kind of as an exclamation point on the play. Their bench is along the third base line -- and it's a true bench, no dugout, not even a fence, and they're all up on their feet and celebrating, players and coaches whooping it up. I catch the relay and kind of step aside, hands on my hips, ball in my glove. Pitcher looks over for me to throw it back to him for the next pitch. I'm thinking, this knucklehead still has to get up off the ground, let's see what happens. Their bench is really whooping it up.

What does the kid do? He stands up, leaps in the air, both feet off the ground, pumps his fist and hollers. I take the ball out with my bare hand and tag him on the hip before he comes back down. The ump is right there and calls him out as he lands.

Shoulda seen his face change from the time he jumped until the time he landed and shlumped off the field.
   27. Howie Menckel Posted: April 01, 2020 at 01:21 PM (#5935546)
In Little League, my team was sponsored by the local bakery, located mere yards away from the ballfield.

we play our first game, walk over to the bakery, and I guess the gal behind the counter thought we looked cute with the bakery name on the back of the uniforms. she asked if we won, and we did - and said so.

"well, then each of you gets a free cookie!" she said.

we may have only been 10 years old, but we were plenty street-wise. let's just say that may have gone 5-5 on the ballfield, but we for damn sure went 10-0 in that bakery. I'd like to think "the next class" did the same the following year.
:)

due to some sort of paperwork mishap, my twin brother and I didn't get listed with any team, and we missed the first practice. the Commissioner was a little rattled because he didn't want to add two players to any one team. we said we didn't care if we played on the same team or not, which surprised them. (so yeah, he missed out on free chocolate chip cookies.)

in Senior League a couple of years later, we had a drunk as our manager. we'd show up for practice around 8:30 am on a Saturday, and he'd already be there sleeping on one of the benches in a 'wife-beater' t-shirt with a pile of Budweiser cans underneath his spot on the bench. we were so stupid that we didn't connect the dots.

my twin and I were opposites in virtually everything - including speed and handedness. he could fly. me, average.

but he consistently mixed us up all season, which is ridiculous because we are fraternal twins and we don't even look like brothers (plus, the handedness). but every time I'd reach first base, I'd look at his signs as he served as third-base coach, and I'd get the "STEAL" sign every time. sigh. swiped some sacks, and got thrown out plenty.

when my brother was on first base - nothing. stay in place.

maybe it didn't help that he rarely got on base. he had a hole in his swing that year and couldn't buy a hit. I was a little smaller and left-handed. 8 for 16 with 15 walks that year - all singles. Punch-and-Judy hitter.

we both played the OF, usually opposite corners (appropriate).

now, my Dad the NYC fireman wasn't a sports fan, and being old-school (born in 1918), he didn't really involve himself in, well, 'child's play.' that was ok by us.

he used to dress in a sports jacket, slacks, tie, and a fedora - to walk to the bus stop to go to the firehouse. carried himself like Burt Lancaster in "Field of Dreams." (he was 55 when I was 12.)

well, for no discernible reason, one Saturday we're in the middle of a game and we see Lancaster - er, Dad - walking in foul territory from the Little League field to our field, as usual impeccably dressed. twin and I each made a running catch during the couple of innings that he watched. then he left, as mysteriously as he came.

just one visit - but it was more than enough. for him, that was beyond his life background of experience. he was a helluva Dad in all other ways as well.

but I digress.

War story:

that same year, I was playing left field, and an afternoon sun was absolutely brutal. total blindside.

I'm a little nervous with Murderer's Row coming up in mid-game. there was a woodsy area in LF that was reachable for a RH slugger; it banked upwards toward an unreachable highway.

first kid rips one to left field - and I have NO idea where it is. I just freeze in place, and then I hear a sickening THUD way behind me - the kid had "banked it," as we all called it.

next kid up. another rocket, another freeze in place, another sickening thud.

third kid up - rinse and repeat.

I'm just devastated. inning finally ends, and I get to the bench and I am bawling like a baby. utterly inconsolable.

game ends, and an hour later we're all playing touch football in the street. we pause as my manager drives by, slows down, and in a very concerned voice, asks if I'm going to be ok.

"I'm fine," I answered, looking at him quizzically.

I mean, duh. that whole 'trauma' had completely disappeared before I even had finished my walk back home.

man, I wish I was 12 again.
   28. PreservedFish Posted: April 01, 2020 at 01:49 PM (#5935556)
My father has a video recording of one of my games. In the middle of the video, my father places the camcorder into his duffel bag, believing that he's turned it off, but the camcorder is still on. There's enough light in the bag for the camcorder to focus on a white towel with a red wine stain on it. Because that's how the old man rolls, he brings red wine to LL games and spills it and comes prepared with towels. At one point you hear a "ping" and then tons of applause - I made a great catch at shortstop. For the next 10 minutes, several people come up to my dad and ask him if he caught my catch on camera. And he says, "No, I turned it off just before it happened!" All the while, we still see nothing but the white towel and its red wine stain.
   29. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: April 01, 2020 at 01:52 PM (#5935557)
I didn't play organized ball as a kid, but I feel like I was part of the last generation to play anything like actual sandlot pickup games. I wasn't very good, but if I was known for anything it was for making some crazy circus catches, a skill I developed throwing myself recklessly after fly balls I tossed to myself in my own backyard.

One of my favorite moments on the field came as an adult in a rec league softball game. I was (am?) a no-power contact hitter who singled in basically every at bat, and during this one, the centerfielder, a good friend and the best natural athlete around, had crept an insulting distance toward the infield. To his credit, he was positioned in exactly the right spot for me, but I took umbrage. I did exactly what I planned to do when I stepped in the box, roped one about a foot over the top of his outstretched glove and trotted home as he chased it all the way into the next field.

My very favorite memory is watching my son get a hit. He'd played T-ball and coach-pitch well, and had a good season at the next level when kid pitchers took the mound, but in the first couple games of the following year, right when some of the kids were starting to get some real hop on their fastballs, he got hit a couple of times and got spooked. After that he just couldn't stay in the box, bailing out on every swing. We practiced for ages in all kinds of different ways to get him back in there, but nothing worked. Kept doing everything else well and hustled through every game and practice with both of us knowing that every plate appearance was going to be an out. In one of his last at-bats of the season, when he knew he wasn't going to get any more chances, he convinced himself to hang in, poked a sharp opposite-field grounder toward the third baseman, and beat the throw. I jumped off the bleachers like it was a series-winning homer.
   30. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: April 01, 2020 at 01:59 PM (#5935561)
Kept doing everything else well and hustled through every game and practice with both of us knowing that every plate appearance was going to be an out. In one of his last at-bats of the season, when he knew he wasn't going to get any more chances, he convinced himself to hang in, poked a sharp opposite-field grounder toward the third baseman, and beat the throw. I jumped off the bleachers like it was a series-winning homer.


I coach now and as great as seeing the star players make great plays it’s stuff like this that really makes it worthwhile. It’s always fun to see if the kid or the parent is more excited.
   31. PreservedFish Posted: April 01, 2020 at 02:02 PM (#5935562)
I didn't play organized ball as a kid, but I feel like I was part of the last generation to play anything like actual sandlot pickup games.


This must still happen somewhere, right?
   32. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: April 01, 2020 at 02:14 PM (#5935567)
This must still happen somewhere, right?


A half-dozen or more kids with gloves and at least one bat and ball gathering informally to play a baseball game? Can't remember the last time I saw or heard of this. If it is happening somewhere, they should put it on TV. Without telling the kids, of course.

   33. SoSH U at work Posted: April 01, 2020 at 02:19 PM (#5935570)
A half-dozen or more kids with gloves and at least one bat and ball gathering informally to play a baseball game? Can't remember the last time I saw or heard of this. If it is happening somewhere, they should put it on TV. Without telling the kids, of course.


I wrote an obituary column, The Death of Sandlot Baseball.

Almost 30 years ago.

   34. PreservedFish Posted: April 01, 2020 at 02:30 PM (#5935575)
I was playing sandlot baseball as recently as 27 years ago.
   35. SoSH U at work Posted: April 01, 2020 at 02:34 PM (#5935576)
I was playing sandlot baseball as recently as 27 years ago.


I guess I would have written mine in '94 or '95. So more like 25 years ago. That tracks.
   36. Karl from NY Posted: April 01, 2020 at 02:58 PM (#5935586)
Not Little League, but the one time I played in any kind of league at all, fraternity league softball in college. (Tech engineering school; the bar is probably lower than in Little League, about half the team doesn't know how baserunner advancement and forceouts work.) I was playing SS, because me and the 2Bman were the only guys with decent hands and some kind of instinct for how fielders should move and cover, and I was older than him (fraternity seniority) so I got to put myself on SS and tell him to play 2B. One game saw the coolest thing I was ever on a field for, a triple play. The 2Bman playing next to me leaped higher than anyone I've ever seen to snag a bloop, ran five steps to 2B to double off that runner, then fired to 1B before that runner got back as well. Our team all started running in to the benches for the next half-inning, while the batting team just stood there in confusion for a good half-minute before everyone processed what had happened.
   37. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: April 01, 2020 at 03:15 PM (#5935594)
A half-dozen or more kids with gloves and at least one bat and ball gathering informally to play a baseball game? Can't remember the last time I saw or heard of this.

When I lived in Palo Alto in the mid-90's, I bicycled around its many parks all the time, and literally never saw kids playing any sport that wasn't "organized" - not baseball, not basketball, not even throwing a football or frisbee around. Not once, not ever.

Probably my favorite "Little League" memory is from around then: I coached a LL "minor league" team, so I didn't pick the roster; I just had to call around and let the kids know they'd be on my team. When I came back to coach the next year, I got one kid's Dad on the phone and he turned & told his son I'd be his coach again this year, and I heard the kid yell "YAAAAAAAY!"
Still makes me happy, 25 years later.
   38. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 01, 2020 at 03:19 PM (#5935598)
I didn't play organized ball as a kid, but I feel like I was part of the last generation to play anything like actual sandlot pickup games.

This must still happen somewhere, right?
Dominican Republic? Cuba? Venezuela?
   39. Starring RMc as Bradley Scotchman Posted: April 01, 2020 at 03:21 PM (#5935599)
I'm pretty sure my Little League WAR was negative.

Now that I think of it, maybe not. I had 37 PA in my one season: 20 K and 16 BB, because I never swung the bat...until my final time up in our last game, when I figured, hey, what the hell. Lined a clean single up the middle, and my coach said it was my team's best hit of the game (which we lost, 32-3).

So that's, what, 048/432/048? I don't remember ever making a catch in right field, which would suggest a rather low dWAR, even by LL standards. Let's call it a push.
   40. TubaOnFire Posted: April 01, 2020 at 03:39 PM (#5935602)
I was not a good player. Good enough on defense to play some short or second, but a pretty terrible hitter. Probably got the ball out of the infield less than 10 times in a 4-5 year career. However, there was one day, I must have been around 11, and I just got lucky and hit one perfectly. Dead center way over everyone's head - rolls into the woods - home run. Next at bat - the center fielder is way back, I can barely see him. Sure enough, I absolutely crush the next one - center fielder doesn't move, right in the glove. I probably didn't get another ball out of the infield that year.

It's that or the time I lost a relay throw in the sun and got a tooth knocked out.

Oh, and these questions are great. Glad to have baseball content.
   41. PreservedFish Posted: April 01, 2020 at 03:40 PM (#5935603)
When I lived in Palo Alto in the mid-90's, I bicycled around its many parks all the time, and literally never saw kids playing any sport that wasn't "organized" - not baseball, not basketball, not even throwing a football or frisbee around. Not once, not ever.

I've seen non-organized pond hockey where I live, but parents usually have to drive the kids to the frozen pond, so it's no quite as free as our dream of sandlot ball is.

I've never lived in the suburbs, but that's where I imagine kids can still run around untethered and play pick-up sports. I mean, I know that most of them would rather have pick-up Warcraft quests or whatever, but some most play sports, sometimes.
   42. Itchy Row Posted: April 01, 2020 at 03:44 PM (#5935604)
I wonder what a replacement-level Little League player is. Maybe you could put a lawn chair at second or play somebody's three-year-old brother who runs on the field sometimes? Or maybe a 30-year-old out of Triple A. "Timmy got hurt. Call Lucas Duda."
   43. SoSH U at work Posted: April 01, 2020 at 03:47 PM (#5935605)
I've never lived in the suburbs, but that's where I imagine kids can still run around untethered and play pick-up sports. I mean, I know that most of them would rather have pick-up Warcraft quests or whatever, but some most play sports, sometimes.


I've raised three kids in the suburbs in two different locations. Most suburban parents don't have free range children, because of all the child molestors. So there are just not that many kids roaming around to be able to engage in full-on pickup games of most types.

The kids on our cul-de-sac played six to eight-person games of wiffle ball quite often in the summer. That's about as close as my youngest ever got (the two oldest were failures as offspring as they didn't care for baseball).

   44. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: April 01, 2020 at 04:54 PM (#5935632)
I've never lived in the suburbs, but that's where I imagine kids can still run around untethered and play pick-up sports.

The suburbs are also where the stereotypical SUV-driving soccer moms are who dutifully pick up their kids after school and drop them off at practice for whichever branch of the youth sports industrial complex they've enlisted in. Those stereotypes exist for a reason.
   45. catomi01 Posted: April 01, 2020 at 05:24 PM (#5935644)
Grew up on Long Island in the 90's...we definitely played a lot of pick up - but it was much easier to get street hockey, basketball or football going than enough for baseball. I had a small group in highschool that we would get together and play baseball a couple of times a week in the spring and fall, but we were all on organized teams too, so for the most part that was only a few weeks at a time, and usually just a handful of kids, not enough for a full game.
   46. toratoratora Posted: April 01, 2020 at 06:17 PM (#5935652)
Now that I think of it, maybe not. I had 37 PA in my one season: 20 K and 16 BB, because I never swung the bat


This was me.
Most pitchers in my little league were told something along the lines of don't aim, just throw as hard as you can. Which led to lots of painful hit by pitches.
After about the fifth one I realized it was better not to swing, take the walk if it was available. I'd like to say it was noble and smart, but I was just a terrible hitter so I gamed the system as best I could.

Fielding though, generally I played 3b and held my own. Didn't have a great glove, but was willing to sacrifice my body to stop a ball (Strange how I was Ok with that as a fielder but not a hitter. But there you are. No one said kid thinking made sense).

Anyhow, last game of the season. We need to win to make the playoffs. For some reason I was in LF that day, can't remember why. We're up 2-1 in the ninth when the other team gets a guy on second with two outs. I distinctly remember being out there praying they didn't hit it at me.
Sonuvabitch but sure enough they did...a liner in the gap...and to everyone's surprise, most of all my own, not only did I cut the ball off and nab it on one hop, I chucked the ball with all my might and thanks to a terrific play from the catcher, managed to nail the runner coming home by 2 feet and preserve the win. Team goes nuts, I get the whole everyone around you cheering and picking you up.
Pretty much was the athletic highlight of my life.

It's been ages since I thought about that day.
Thanks for reviving the memory.

Oh, and we got killed in the first round of the playoffs.



   47. Baldrick Posted: April 01, 2020 at 07:06 PM (#5935664)
So that's, what, 048/432/048? I don't remember ever making a catch in right field, which would suggest a rather low dWAR, even by LL standards. Let's call it a push.

Not making a single catch in right field IS replacement level in Little League, at least where I grew up.

My favorite little league game came when I was 12. They were re-seeding the field for 11-12 year olds at the time, so they moved our game to the field usually reserved for 9-10 year olds. Not a huge difference, but enough that my two long fly balls sailed right over the fence. I had a few 'inside the park' home runs which were generally more about poor fielding than the hit itself. But those were my only two For Real home runs. Still have the balls in a box in the closet.

I kept playing through the end of little league and was one of the better players for my age in town. I had real hopes. Then I showed up to one day of tryouts for the high school team and realized that everyone else who was sticking with the game was A) actually really good and B) a jock. Turned around and never went back.
   48. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: April 01, 2020 at 08:57 PM (#5935684)
I played little league and senior league and even for some time on a Sunday league while in graduate school. I was mostly a pitcher, with little in the way of velocity, but some various kinds of junk and the ability to throw strikes.

I was normally a terrible hitter. I'm not really sure why, I worked on it a lot. I really just never could see the ball well. I remember a couple of long hits where I actually did see the ball well, and followed it all the way to the bat. It was magical. I can still see it in my mind and almost feel it in my hands.

I remember a couple of different times in a game that was pretty close I struck out a couple of the best hitters in the league, one of which eventually made it to the minor leagues, I jumped off the mound, I was so happy.

I also remember a game where, for some reason I just didn't have it. My arm must have been tired, but I had no velocity whatsoever and couldn't throw any junk for a strike. Gosh I got hammered. We were playing the best team in the league. Someone hit a home run over the center-field fence, which never happened. One the best hitters turned around to hit left-handed, and I could kinda throw left-handed, so I did too. He got a hit.

   49. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: April 01, 2020 at 09:16 PM (#5935688)
Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: April 01, 2020 at 08:57 PM (#5935684)
I played little league and senior league and even for some time on a Sunday league while in graduate school. I was mostly a pitcher, with little in the way of velocity


You don’t say.
   50. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: April 01, 2020 at 09:37 PM (#5935695)
Ya got me there!
   51. Bowling Baseball Fan Posted: April 02, 2020 at 12:23 AM (#5935714)
Pitching against the best team in the league when I was 11-12. Their runners would like to run early. My coach caught on. He came to me with a runner on 1st early in the game. I literally threw the first pitch right at my first baseman. Runner was 10 feet away. Automatic out. Never had that problem again the rest of the game. Suddenly the best team in the league was god awful. We win easily and made the finals. I also stole 3 bases myself. Never topped that in my school career in anything.
   52. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: April 02, 2020 at 01:58 AM (#5935722)
Our teams were sponsored by local businesses and taverns, people dont believe me when I say this. Yes, in Wisconsin liquor stores and taverns can sponsor little league teams. This was 80s/90s so maybe that's changed.

We had one field that should not have allowed older kids to play on it as any sharp foul to right was likely going to reach an adjacent home,yard. The extended net wasn't long enough. One game this kid is throwing hard and nobody can turn on his FB. This lady's house suffered 2 broken windows in about 2 innings. Dogs barking. These were really rare shots but still. They later found a better backstop net to prevent this but it resulted in weak pops being uncatchable if fading softly towards 1b dugout.

   53. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: April 02, 2020 at 02:08 AM (#5935724)
Totally played tons of sandlot games as late as 93. Much like the movie only older. Meet up in morning, play for hours, grab some junk food, head to the local pool, home for dinner. Somewhere between 8 and 20 kids on most days. RF was usually foul except for one lefty kid. Usually pitchers mitt or some agreed upon alternative for ground putouts. Hard lob pitching when it was hot, nobody wanted to catch w gear.
   54. Nasty Nate Posted: April 02, 2020 at 10:25 AM (#5935784)
Our teams were sponsored by local businesses and taverns, people dont believe me when I say this. Yes, in Wisconsin liquor stores and taverns can sponsor little league teams. This was 80s/90s so maybe that's changed.
In Boston around the same time period, there were teams sponsored by taverns.
   55. Baldrick Posted: April 02, 2020 at 10:41 AM (#5935788)
Growing up in the late 80s/early 90s, there was a park a couple blocks from our house. Not a very nice park but it had a backstop and a bunch of open space. I would go there with a couple friends and we'd play 1 v 2, with a pitcher and fielder against a hitter (with ghost runners). If either fielder HELD the ball before the batter reached first, it was an out. Worked reasonably well.

Not regularly, but not super irregularly, other kids would join in and expand the game.

In terms of pickup play, ultimate frisbee at the town's main park at the beach was much more common, but that was more of a high school thing, once people had cars and could drive.
   56. PreservedFish Posted: April 02, 2020 at 11:05 AM (#5935796)
In Boston around the same time period, there were teams sponsored by taverns.


Yeah, this doesn't seem exceptional. Pretty sure the local sports bar sponsored one of our teams, and I'm sure the pizzeria (that had a "lounge") did too.
   57. Bowling Baseball Fan Posted: April 02, 2020 at 12:41 PM (#5935850)
We never had the sponsors. We just had MLB team names. I played for the Astros. But our uniforms looked like I played for the Oakland Athletics.
   58. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: April 02, 2020 at 01:07 PM (#5935872)
I quit playing after little league because of time constraints but went out crushing with 5 homers over my last two games in one of those all star playoff tournaments. We got destroyed 15 to something in the championship game where I had two dingers plus an unassisted double play when I dove for a liner and the guy at third did a face plant trying to get back and I ran over to get the out. It was cool after the game doing the line handshake being told by the other team 'yeah you don't suck' Still sucked to lose obviously.
   59. Hysterical & Useless Posted: April 02, 2020 at 01:38 PM (#5935890)
I was good at getting hit by pitches. I was not good at hitting pitches.

I once made a fabulous sweep tag to catch a runner trying to steal 2nd. The coach was so impressed that he kept playing me at 2nd even though I had no range, no arm, no bat, and moderately decent (at best) hands. Though since most 9 year olds approach every batted ball the way Bob Uecker dealt with knucklers ("wait till it stops rolling, then pick it up") moderately decent must be near all-star quality.

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