Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Little Game of Pepper

By: Smiley Face Now

When I was a kid, baseball was a way of life.  All of my friends and I played Little League and when not at a game or a practice, we played Wiffle ball till the street lights came on (this being the universal signal for all the neighborhood kids to head home).  We had delusions of grandeur and were just as good as any of the pros, at least in our minds.  It was a magic time in all of our lives and really cemented America’s pastime into our souls.

Part of the fun of the game was playing pepper with your teammates before the game.  This is where a batter would quickly, in rapid succession hit crisp ground balls to a couple of players who would field the ball and throw it back to be hit again.  This is how you would get warmed up for the game and for the mild trash talking and harmless banter expected of the engaged teammate.  Cries of “no batter, no batter” or “we want a pitcher not a belly itcher” were common refrains.

So fast forward many years and I find myself at my older daughter’s softball game.  During a particularly bad stretch of innings, the girls started to pepper their teammates with all of the classic encouragements, “wait for your pitch, good eye, good eye,” “good cut” and for the pitcher, “just play catch (with the catcher),” and I was transported back to my youth.  Now these girls were sounding off as well as any hoary veteran of the game, so I smiled as I realized the girls were a little less talking trash and a little more encouraging than boys would be, but the idea was the same.  They were a team, playing America’s game and were part of the enduring tradition of summer played out across our great land in ball fields and sandlots in your neighborhood.  Watching them brought me back to my magic time as I hope this is theirs.  Oh, the girls rallied latter in the game and won by 7 runs – not a bad way to end my story!

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