Outside the Lines: A little piece of heaven at the ballpark

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 20, 2007

No, it&8217;s not Iowa, but little league baseball (softball and soccer) can be just like heaven for young Shelby County athletes, similar to Shoeless Joe Jackson&8217;s reflections in the movie Field of Dreams.

We all remember the smell of the grass and hotdogs cooking on the grill, the scenes of hundreds of kids coming to the ballpark with a glove in hand and the feeling of being scratched into the starting lineup for the first time.

It was the crowd on it&8217;s feet for a deeply hit ball and the grass under his feet that Shoeless Joe, depicted in the movie, says he missed most about the game.

Opening day for Dixie Youth or Babe Ruth baseball captures the excitement of the game for all of us. As a player, the kids are setting goals and talking up whether they can or cannot hit the fence, or by some Saturday afternoon miracle, knock one over the fence. The parents come to the park to not only watch their children play the game but reminisce about their first opening day and their first ball off the fence. They are also there to share in the atmosphere with their neighbors, building friendships with the parents of those that their son or daughter is establishing childhood friendships with.

James Earl Jone&8217;s character Terrance Mann poetically describes this spirit of baseball at the end of the movie when talking to Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner).

&8220;The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again,&8221; Mann said.

We now live in a time where baseball is no longer just a fun Saturday at the park, but a seven day intense practice schedule. With numerous parks across the county kicking off their season this past Saturday. Parents don&8217;t forget why you played and why we truly enjoy watching and experiencing the timeless past-time. If you remember the spirit that Mann shares, then pass it on to your child as this season begins