Baseball, a game very similar to cricket, with a bowler, a batsman, fielders, runs, sixes and innings. And today I witnessed the game live in action at a park nearby to where I live.
The spectators were cheering every run that was being scored, the players were running hard, the coaches were helping the players grip the bat, the buddies were prepping the players – but wait, buddies, there are no buddies in Baseball! Well, this one does.
Every player on the field has a buddy who is responsible for guiding and playing alongside the players.
The game was played by kids who had different abilities. Some kids took more time to react, some kids used wheelchairs to walk and run, some used other walking aids, some kids wanted to just walk around instead of waiting at the base, some were playing catch-a-ball with their buddies, but everyone was back in motion (helped by their buddies) moving from one base to the other when someone hit the ball.
Kid1: tried to hit the ball that was placed on the Tee (Baseball set) and would miss hitting the ball every single time. He was probably in the early teens and was able to stand with a walking aid. The buddy waited till he asked for help at which point the buddy help hold the bat and gently hit the ball. What happened after that was simply amazing. The kid ran and ran hard, all the while holding pushing the walking aid (had wheels) and didn’t stop until the next base. The kid proudly waived at the parents who were watching from the bench outside the field.
Kid2: Had glasses on and wasn’t dressed in the typical blue jersey that all the other kids were wearing. She mostly kept to herself and was walking around the field and had very little interaction with her buddy or for that matter with anyone else on the field. Now it was her turn to bat. The buddy helped her get to the home plate. She took the position and gently touched the ball that was on the Tee (Baseball set) and slowly walked towards the other base. The buddy didn’t try to rush her.
Kid3: She was probably the youngest of all the kids and very excited. She played catch-a-ball with her buddy while she was waiting for the ball to be hit. And when the ball slipped out of her hand she would race her buddy and try to grab the ball before the buddy could get to.
Kid4: He knew the game and knew it very well. He took the stance of the batter and watched the pitcher pitch it all the way. He swung the bat hard but missed. He tried that a few times and on the fourth occasion he managed to hit a clean shot. It almost touched the fence of the field. The kid only was trying to hit with one hand while he was holding on to the walking hand with the other. The crowd just erupted for what was almost a home run.
The buddies were from different age groups and were paired with their partners almost randomly or at least that’s how it appeared. A teenager with another teenager and a teenager with a kid and a kid with a teenager and a kid with another kid. The interaction was very casual.
They were all sitting on the bench along the sidelines of the makeshift baseball field. The parents were socializing with other parents, cheering on a hit or encouraging on a miss but all in all were involved in the game.
They were not really the coaches but they were the ones who were pitching the ball, prepping the kids on the sidelines, fetching the ball from different parts of the field and organizing the baseball game.
No one really won or lost the game because they were all on the same side and playing for the same reason – to have fun and to be their natural self. If the kids were told what to do and how to do then may be
The kid who gently touched the ball wouldn’t have done so for the fear of being ridiculed.
The kid who ran his heart out with the help of his walking aid wouldn’t have done so for the fear of falling down and getting hurt.
The kid who laughed and jumped and played with her buddy while waiting at the base wouldn’t have done so for the fear of getting out.
The kid who swung the bat with just one hand wouldn’t have done so for the fear of losing his balance.
- At home parents try to discipline and try to teach
- At the school the teachers try to discipline and try to teach
At the playground the kids are their own coaches and they are their own teachers. There are not too many places where kids can just be kids no matter what their abilities are?