My Little Girl Baseball Player
A father recalls fond memories of his daughter's days competing with the boys.
Funny being a throwback to the days when girls didn't play baseball just to have a daughter who insisted on doing just that.
By the time Megan was seven years old, she had watched her brother play baseball for five years. When she said she wanted to play ball, her mom and I signed her up for softball at Terrell Mill Park in East Cobb. If you know anything about Terrell Mill, you know they have a great softball program there, especially girls softball.
Anyway, after one year of girls softball, Megan had decided she'd had enough. At the level she played the girls got five strikes before being called out.
We're talking about slow pitch softball here. Maybe it was her particular coach, but regardless of how badly the team might have been beaten the coach's response was always "It's OK girls. It's only a game."
Of course it's just a game. We all understand what can happen when we forget that. But, I believe it's human nature to compete and to want to win. Apparently, Megan thought the same thing.
When it was time to register the following spring, she told her mom "If it's OK with you, I'd rather play baseball."
Well, since her brother was signed up for Pony League at Sandy Plains, we signed her up for baseball at Sandy Plains, too. What followed was such a great experience. Listen up.
By the time Megan got to baseball tryouts, she had thrown, caught (well sort of, anyway) and swung a bat for 3-4 years. Needless to say, she was a little ahead of a few boys who had never played baseball in their life. But she (and we) knew she was heading into somewhat untested waters and that there would be certain prejudices that she would encounter. Needless to say, Megan was the ONLY girl to register for baseball at Sandy Plains that spring.
Tryouts were funny. They always are at the 7-8 year old level. Anyway, Megan was standing in line waiting for her turn to throw and the kid behind her told her "What are you doing here? Girls can't play baseball." Megan looked him right in the eye and said, "Well, I can."
Nothing else was said between the two of them. Funny thing is, Megan had a better tryout than that little guy. I think somewhere along the line they ended up on the same team a time or two.
Megan never really set the league on fire with her hitting. And, it did take her a while to get the concepts and strategies down. But she was always among the first to get drafted.
The same coach drafted her among his first three drafts every season, spring and fall. I asked Coach David why he drafted her so early. He didn't even hesitate to answer. He said "You must be kidding. Your daughter has spunk. My daughter played softball her entire experience and WANTED to play baseball. I'm looking forward to having her on the team."
The next three years were simply fantastic. My son, Chris, would be playing his game on the field right next to where Megan's games were played. It was amazing how many times both would have games on the same day. Heck, there were some days when their mom and I would rotate every few innings to watch the other kid play. What a blast!
I remember that first season almost like it was yesterday. Megan had never hit a baseball nor been thrown a pitch that didn't arch at least 10 feet. So having a kid throw a baseball at her was a little intimidating. She got hit by pitches on several occasions. Not ONCE did she cry or make a scene.
That could not be said for several of the boys on her team. That didn't go unnoticed by the boys on her team or their parents. Once, I overheard a mom tell her son "Stop crying! Megan doesn't cry." Whew!
One of my favorite memories of that first season was when Megan got her first hit. It was late in the season. She had not gotten a base hit all season long. Sure, she hit the ball. Mostly grounders and popups. And she got on base plenty with walks and by being hit by the pitch.
But by this time, she had been fully embraced by the team. They were all pulling for her to get her first hit. Then much to everyone's surprise, Megan timed her swing perfectly, hitting a line drive between left and center field. The ball rolled the fence with Megan ending up on second base. Her teammates were ecstatic, yelling and screaming for her. Every parent in the stand was yelling and high-fiving. Coach David even went to the umpire and got the ball for her to keep. Man, what a great memory.
We played. Crazy how we include ourselves in that. Well, Megan played another two years. Always drafted early by Coach David. He told us (and Megan) on many occasions that she was one of the most valuable members of the team because she always showed up for practice, always supported her teammates and always gave everything she had. Quite an honor.
I'm pleased to say that by the time Megan's three years at Sandy Plains were done, she was no longer the only girl playing baseball in that league. I think there were as many as five by the time we left. I might add here that IF your daughter ever wanted to play baseball instead of softball, Sandy Plains is a great place to do that because of their recreational focus.
And while baseball will always be primarily a boys' game, the lessons for little girls are many and significant. Don't hold her back. It will be good for her and them.