I’m always amazed at how well little leaguers imitate big leaguers. Take a good look at the two 9 year old players in this photo. The batter has on a full uniform, just like the big leaguers: shoes with “spikes” (rubber), knee socks, pants, liner and jersey, and batting helmet. A lot of young batters even wear batting gloves. Geez, whenI was a kid we felt lucky to have our own fielder’s glove, let alone batting gloves. Some of the kids used their dad’s old glove, the ones that didn’t have the fingers tied together with a piece of rawhide. The kids’ hands weren’t large enough to make the four independent fingers close around the ball and keep it in the pocket, and the pocket of the glove, if it had one at all, was only large enough to trap golf balls. And some kids didn’t have a glove at all; it was common for the two opposing teams to share each other’s gloves. And our uniforms were colored t-shirts! But, I digress. The catcher has all of the battle gear of a big league catcher, including a catcher’s mitt.
Even their play looks big league … at least when the action is frozen in a photograph. The pitched ball is whistling straight for the batter’s head. Geez, did that pitcher try to intimidate the batter by throwing a high inside “fast ball” to brush him back from the plate? (In reality, the ball is louped in the general direction of the catcher with barely enough velocity to keep it airborne for the entire 30′ journey to home plate.) The batter holds his ground and calmly ducks beneath the pitch. Meanwhile, the catcher concentrates on the ball and moves his mitt to snare it, no worries about missing it.
If the players could be silhouetted against a plain white background, rather than the chain link fence and lawn chair, it would be difficult to tell what age they were. The all-in-one helmet and face mask on the catcher and the face guard on the batter’s helmet would be the only clues to tell you the players weren’t big leaguers. If you see these kids in person, they look like 1/4 scale big leaguers … until you watch them play.
Thought for the Day: If it weren’t for baseball, many kids wouldn’t know what a millionaire looked like. Phyllis Diller