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Play Ball!
posted: October 20, 2008
the illoz Angels...
Why is it that kids baseball team photos are all the same?
The photographer lines everyone up according to height so that the photograph is nice and symetrical. Everyone is instructed to put their hands behind them or at their sides. Face forward.... look like winners....and  snap, that's your memory. A solumn line-up of kids who signed up to have a good time and play a great game in the sun.

I've been involved with youth baseball for over 15 years now and year after year as the teams line up for their generic photos, I've often wondered, why so serious? For me, baseball is about having fun - and when I say "fun", I really do mean exacty that.

Most coaches insist that it's all about having a good time. In fact, they will repeat it over and over again. Have fun! But the truth is, when the game is on the field there are very few who actually deliver on their promise. Parents rarely help either. They scream from the bleachers, not with joy, but about the missed call or the missed opportunity.

By far, the largest group in youth baseball is the very young. Players from ages four to eight outnumber players at age eleven by double. By age thirteen, the number of players is only a tenth of those who started at age six. Why do the stop playing? They stop because they thought the word "play" actually meant it was about having fun. It turned out to be exactly the opposite.

Sadly, team photos are very often a snapshot of broken promises. I see it year after year.

But, I'm not willing to give up! I'll be back next season with the same crazy notion that this game really is about having a good time. Perhaps I'm delusional, so be it. Play Ball kids!

 
7 comments
Robert Saunders October 20, 2008
Great counterpoint to the grim repetiveness of team pics you mention, Zimm...totally screwy, topped off with illoz jerseys! How can you beat that. Missing just one thing: some kid giving the finger.
rag October 20, 2008
i want to play for your team, coach!
Zina Saunders October 20, 2008
Fun!
Robert Hunt October 20, 2008
I love this photo and the memories it brings back. My son Will began playing baseball at 8 years of age and continued playing through high school and college- I believe that a lot of what kept him going all these years has been the love of the game instilled to him and his teammates by a coach he had back when he was the age of the kids in this picture. I think being on this team will be something they always remember. As Yogi Berra said, "little league baseball is a very good thing- it keeps the parents off the streets".
Nancy Stahl October 20, 2008
I love that one serious kid in the middle.
Marc October 20, 2008
Clearly these guys are going to end up being artists. Go team!
Harry Campbell October 20, 2008
Hey Zimm, I'm with you. I've been coaching and asst. coaching for years, t-ball on up. I bailed last year after it just became too much about the coaches egos and not the kids having fun. This year was no different. It gets to the point where the kids don't even know what to do because they're used to the coach yelling every move out to them. Choke up! back up a bit more! Elbow up! Quick bat! etc etc. I still love it though, especially staying after the game and pitching to the kids, then they have fun.