But for kids like our five-year old who had just one practice in his first year of organized baseball before the fields at Shiloh Park were closed, he couldn’t tell the difference. With his cleats laced up, bat bag packed, and Gatorade bottle filled, he was ready to field grounders, hit the ball, and run the bases.
For kids who have been out of school since March and haven’t been able to attend other public gatherings, this was a chance to get out. To run around. To burn off energy. And just to do something normal. Even if that meant putting the glove on the wrong hand. Or running to third base. Or every kid chasing after the ball regardless of the position that were playing and where the ball went. Because that’s what you do when you’re five. That’s normal.
There were high-fives and fist bumps, even if that is frowned upon these days. The dugout was roped off, but since the caution tape was higher than the kids, they likely didn’t notice and walked in just fine to put their bags down. But they didn’t spend much time in the dugout. No, last night was meant for being a kid. For the first time in a while. And that just felt good.
I know it did for the parents. Though I can only speak for one parent.
At the end of the night, it was just practice. There are no uniforms yet. Since capacity is limited to 20, there are no games yet. The hope is that will come next month and the season that normally runs from March through May will now run from May through July, if everything goes as planned.
I’m ready for Major League Baseball to return, as seems likely at this point. But I’m even more excited for another season of the memories from youth baseball, for the kids, and for us parents.