Letter to the War Street Journal on little league

As is often the case the letters section outdoes the original article. This might not be intended to be a libertarian rant, but the case is made well, at least to people who think.

Regarding “Why Children Are Abandoning Baseball” (Sports, May 21): It strikes me that it is about a lack of joy. I recall the wonder of the sport when I was growing up. On any given summer evening, dozens of boys from our neighborhood gathered on the sandy lot across the street. Regardless of age, we rushed through dinner to be on hand when the two oldest kids “chose up sides.” Seven-year-olds learned to play from 14-year-olds. If you made an error, your manager might punch you. There were no bases on balls. Three swings and you were out. The pitcher was a member of the team at bat, so he tried to let you hit the ball. The game moved quickly. Sliding on gravel was at the risk of getting a “raspberry” on your butt, and bragging rights went to the team in front when the game was “called” on account of darkness or because our mothers were calling us in.

No coaches, no umpires, no scoreboard, no parents, no pressure—just the pure joy of playing a game of skill within a common set of rules. If Little League could figure out how to reproduce that experience, it would reverse its decline.

Jon Fox

Ventnor, N.J.

2 responses to “Letter to the War Street Journal on little league

  1. I hated baseball as a kid for two primary reasons: One, because I wasn’t very good at it but felt I had to play it, and Two, because the coaches and most of the parents made it all about the winning, the star players, and not sucking. So much for fun. As of now, my older son hasn’t expressed interest in it, so I’m not pushing it, because I don’t want him to regret 6 summers of bad ball like I do.

    • 6 summers is abusive. I’d sue.

      I wasn’t much good either. The most fun was in the street or in Charlie Langmuir’s front yard. We had a lot of kids on our block in Santa Monica. I think the ages went about the range of the letter’s author’s experience.

      But I was in little league too, at a park with 16 diamonds. My dad coached and was afraid of showing favoritism. So he didn’t play me much. Then in the last game we were ahead by one and the pitching staff was used up. He put me in to pitch and my sidearm was so weird I struck out 9 straight in three innings.

      In Hansell Dawn and I coached, then Vern Harper. It was fun representing a town against 5 teams from Hampton. Vern had our guys intentionally walk Tad Jones 4 times in one game because he hit a homer every time he was up. Alan Seline was freaking out! Vern would have Josh Symens, if he walked, start sprinting about 3/4 of the way to 1st and he’d get to second every time while the other team daydreamed. Marcus Kofoot got a homer on errors and the team nearly smothered him.

      Then in Babe Ruth Karl’s team was ahead 22 to 2, or something and the coach still only played 11 guys outa 20 or so. The bleachers were booing him.

      I grew up listening to Vin Scully announce Dodger games and he’s still doing it. Just some stuff to share about how baseball can be made OK.

      On Fri, May 29, 2015 at 10:41 AM, alternativebyfritz wrote:


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