Little League Baseball & Friendly Brotherly Competition
Rivalry Between Brothers Begins
A few weeks ago, football season got underway. While, I’m not necessarily a huge, life and death, tailgating type of fan, I do sort of like to keep up with a couple of the college teams, just so I’ll be able to take part in conversations with my sons. I have two sons and each follow rivaling teams. We live in the south and college football is a culture and industry all it’s own down here. I don’t know how I managed to grow up these two guys in Tennessee and both of them decided to be supporters of teams in red instead of orange. Well, this past weekend was the big rival game between the two opposing teams. Alabama Crimson against Razorback Red. Even though the brothers were in their own domains in different cities, I still considered my house to be, as they say, divided.
As I watched the game off and on during the afternoon, it started me thinking about when my sons played little league baseball. Yes, I do know, even though I’m not really a sports fan, that baseball and football are two different sports. The commonality of the two, in this story anyway, is the whole rivalry thing. Because my sons are close in age (just 19 months difference) they almost always played on the same team. For three or four summers in the 80’s our lives revolved around this all American pastime of baseball. I have to say, they were good times. But, usually before it’s time to take the trophies home, everyone becomes a little weary and really glad when the gear can be put away for a while. Any family who has lived through summers of baseball knows that by the end of the season you have had your share of fast food, camping out at the ball field, toting around lawn chairs and let’s not forget, the ever present ice chest. Between practice times and the games you live at the field or in the car on the road getting to the field.
Brothers + Opposing Teams = Rivalry
There’s one summer that stands out for each of us. The summer the brothers played on opposing teams. That wouldn’t be such a big issue except the teams were in the same league. Now, for those that are not familiar with this sport, what that means is … each team in the league would play each other three or four times during the season. In our case … the two brothers would frequently be playing against each other! Not always a good thing to promote family harmony. The reason for this most trying family situation was because the younger son decided at sign up time to not play ball that year. However, a couple of weeks into practice and right before the actual playing started, he changed his mind and wanted to play. Unfortunately, his brother’s team was full and not accepting any other players, but the coach, had the solution. He knew another team on the league still had some vacancies. Since all the teams in the league practiced and played at the same fields it just made sense, to this mom, to sign him up with that team. Thus, the summer of rivalry began.
In little league the parents get to know each other pretty well before the season’s over. Often the same group of parent’s go from year to year if the kids play in the same league or team. And it’s a good thing most of the parents in this league, had a good sense of humor. Game times were, to say the least, interesting, especially when the two teams were playing against each other. I would usually position my lawn chair in the middle between each set of supporting parents. I was a supporting parent too and had to support each team. Deciding on how and when the supporting was displayed, could be challenging.
Allow me to explain...
You see, one son played catcher and one son played first base. Now don’t forget, they are on opposing teams but in the same league. That made for three different and usually pretty interesting...scenarios.
Scenario #1: A brother hits the ball and is headed toward first base and is possibly put out by the other brother. Or, one brother makes it around the bases and is headed for a run to the home plate and is put out by the other brother. What’s a mother to do? I would say “Good job” to one son and then “That’s too bad” to the other son. I was always asking myself, “Which son do I recognize first?” as well as constantly reminding myself to keep in mind to express the right type of emotion. It was mind boggling sometimes! By the time the other parents caught on to the most uncommon form of "fan" I was, they got a good laugh at my expense.
Scenario #2: Both boys are playing at the same time, but, on different diamonds. The ball field was a nice complex that had five or six diamonds and it was lighted too. So, before we would unload the car, I would flip a coin with the boys to see which team I started with. I would watch about 30-45 minutes and then pick my chair and stuff up and move to the other team at the other diamond. If things were going smoothly I didn’t have to move back to the first team, but, that was not always the case.
Scenario #3: Both boys are playing the same night, which was always the case, since in this league and on this particular field they usually played three games each evening. If memory serves, each game was a maximum of so many innings or 1 ½ hours, whichever came first. Thank goodness for that anyway! If we were lucky the games were back to back. But often one would play the first slot and the other would not play until the last slot. Not really enough time to go home but sometimes enough time to grab some supper. And let’s not forget that the brother not in play had to entertain himself while his brother was doing his thing and remember this was the 80’s... before all the electronic gadgets, the kids have in tow nowadays at all events.
Be Flexible to Endure the Race
Somehow, someway we made it through that summer of rivalry. Glad to say it was not a hostile rivalry, thank goodness! Within a couple of years these two brothers started following two different college football teams and that lead to more friendly rivalry, that has stayed with them. Add in the mix, other family members who are fans of this team or that sport. It makes for some interesting cool weather family gatherings. I’m sure we learned valuable lesson throughout those little league years, a couple being, endurance and flexibility...which do come in handy to make it through our family gatherings.
Always A Fan ... At Least For Offspring !
Before I know it my 2 ½ year old grandson, will be picking up a ball and glove and headed to a diamond somewhere. His dad’s been a little league coach off and on for a few years and my Happy Roustabout already has a toddler size bat and ball and knows how to do the tee ball thing. So I guess that means in a couple of years I will be getting a new lawn chair...one that a much older fan can easily get in and out off. I’m so glad ice chest now have wheels on them!