WORTHINGTON — Every participating player reached base twice and scored two runs apiece Wednesday night, and the Dodgers and Cardinals played to an exciting, fun-filled deadlock in the Worthington T-ball opener for both squads.
There were several standouts on both sides, both for exceptional play and effort and unintentional humor. As is the case in almost any T-ball opener, there were a few glorious examples of creative baserunning. Some examples Wednesday: Running to first while utterly refusing to let go of the bat; running not just out of the baseline but virtually out of the county; standing (or sitting) on a base while teammates, coaches and fans implore a player to “run!!!”; and dashing straight to the dugout while skipping both second and third base.
(Please don’t think this sportswriter is making fun of these young athletes whatsoever. He’s just happy they’re playing and — hopefully — learning and having fun.)
A fleeting and frightening moment on the field came in the top of the second and final inning, when a Cardinals’ player hit a sharp line drive back toward the pitching circle. On one bounce, the baseball — T-balls are fortunately softer than regulation baseballs — appeared to strike a young Dodger near the forehead. He went down pretty quickly, all on-field action came to a halt and things got awfully quiet.
Before long, the tough young man of 6 years of age came to his feet and let all know he was fine. Because of his love for batting helmets, he was wearing one while in the field — and this may have actually cushioned the blow. In fact, it wasnt’t long before the fledgling star was chasing after ground balls all over the infield at full speed.
While it’s not immediately known how many seasons T-ball has been played in this southwest Minnesota community, the 2014 campaign sure looks as if it’s going to be another dandy. Six teams began play this week and will compete (probably a misnomer, since there are no winners or losers at this level) in six games each. Every single player in the league will be a Most Valuable Player. They will say an important pre-game oath (this may not be quite verbatim): “I pledge to play the best I can. To be a team player. To respect my opponents, the rules, and officials, and to improve myself in Spirit, Mind, and Body.” They will all hopefully continue to develop a love for baseball and sports in general.
And, whether this is the first of many years on the diamond or their only year, perhaps they will learn what it’s like to be part of a team — something that will serve them well in whatever path they ultimately choose later in life.
One final detail that cannot be omitted: Dodger veteran Zachary McGaughey made several fine plays in the field and had a couple of solid knocks at the dish. His daddy is very proud of him and can’t wait until his next game.