This past Saturday morning I helped my father out photographing a 5K road race sponsored by the hospital in my home town (where I was born, and both my kids), and after that I zipped home in time to see the last half hour or so of Alex's little league game.
I joined Bill and Julia where they were sitting, and Bill told me Alex was 2 for 2 so far and should be up again soon. I let Julia take pictures with my camera…told Bill how things went with the race and my picture-taking…and Bill mentioned that he didn't think Alex was wearing his cup. He'd told Alex to get it, but didn't know if he had. And he didn't check.
Alex is in the rookie league, which is the next step up from t-ball. The coaches pitch during practice and the weekday games, and it's machine pitched on Saturday games. When I arrived, the machine seemed to be getting tired or something – balls were dropping and bouncing in front of the plate, or they'd get shot out at a bit of an angle. The coaches messed around with the machine a bit, trying to get it to be consistent, and it seemed to improve. Each kid gets 5 pitches (unless they hit the ball), but if their last hit is foul they get another pitch. So basically it's five strikes and you're out.
They hit (it seems) in numerical order, as determined by their jerseys, at least at this stage of the season. Number 8 came up to the plate…I think he struck out, but I don't remember.
Then Alex came up to bat. And promptly got hit in the thigh. Bill said something like "Good thing it didn't hit him higher up!" I just gave him a look.
The machine pitches at around 55 mph, and they're using real baseballs, so it hurt. I watched him hold his leg and press his lips together. There's no crying in baseball, after all.
At first they were going to have him take his base, but then they sent Alex back to the dugout. I thought maybe they'd have someone run for him…? But then the coaches convened again at the machine and tried adjusting different things, checking to see if this helped, if that helped…and finally they seemed satisfied that the macine was pitching correctly again.
While this was going on, I reeeeeeeeeeeally wanted to check on Alex. I couldn't see him, and I knew his leg must hurt. But I didn't move from where I was sitting. I thought if I showed up, all his manly efforts not to cry would fail, and I didn't want that to happen to him. I wanted him to work through it on his own. No - scratch that. I wanted to run in there and give him a hug. But it wouldn't have been the best thing for him, so I didn't. Getting hit occasionally is part of the game. Plus, eventually that sort of behavior on my part will embarrass or annoy him, so I need to get used to reigning myself in. And besides, it didn't get him in the head. Or…elsewhere.
Anyway, once they got the machine fixed, they called Alex back out and he hit a nice double. And he seemed to be running just fine, too. Good.
After the game, we headed around the field, past the other sets of bleachers, to go get hotdogs. We passed by our friends from across the street – their son's team was playing next. Alex told them all about getting hit in the leg, and that he was okay, and it's good the ball didn't go higher, since he wasn't wearing his cup. They agreed that he was relatively fortunate, and we wished their team luck and started to leave.
And then, of course, Julia turned back and HOLLERED to them, "HE'S LUCKY HE DIDN'T GET HIT IN THE NUTS!"
She does not learn this from me.