On the first day of spring I drove by Riddle Field. The scene was alive with kids and the promise of a new season, when dreams will be played out on sunny mornings and brisk nights under the lights. As a kid I used to run wild in those Boat Canyon highlands, before anyone heard the call from the distant reaches of the cosmos to build a field of dreams there, so kids could come play the game.
They built it and we came. So did my kids and grandkids.
There is not much that a young person needs to know in life that cannot be learned playing Little League baseball. Baseball teaches us how to be intensely competitive, but play with decency, to be aggressive without being mean, to win with joy but be humble in victory.
Baseball teaches you how to accept losing and learn from failure, how to use tactics without being unfair or cheating. Baseball is about runs not points, how to be fiercely loyal to your team and also a good sport, how to fight to the finish and still be friends with the other kids when the game is over, and how to show a little compassion for the players on both teams when they struggle.
Baseball teaches young people that winning is what it is all about, except that playing with character counts even more. It is no coincidence that team leaders often are not the most dominant players, recognized instead for their leadership on and off the field. Little League does not guaranty that every player will grow up to be that kind of adult, but it gives them a better shot at it.
So on behalf of all the young players, past and present, who sometimes triumphed, and sometimes were broken, who had to be strong and soldiered on, but would have been gone from the field of dreams without the warmth of a good hearted coach, we need to thank the baseball coaches of America for making every season great.
The good character of the team reflects the good character of the coach, enriching the lives of every player on the team. Coaches give us memories that will stay with us for life, and that goes for the families too.
That is the magic and power of what still remains, for those who love it most, the great American game.
Howard Hills, Laguna Beach
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