A Little Kid's Game

I had a dream the other day … this is 100 percent true, by the way.

Someone had asked me a baseball trivia question. And the question was this:

What are the 10 little kid’s games inside of baseball?

I said, “Well, obviously playing catch. That’s a little kid’s game. That’s one.” And whoever was asking me the question said, “Yes, but that’s the easy one.”

I said, “Um, OK, well, hitting a ball with a stick is a little kid’s game. That’s two.”

Whoever was asking the question nodded again.

“Throwing a ball as hard as you can. That’s three.”

And then I woke up. You know how sometimes when you wake up in the middle of an interesting and happy dream, you’re mad that you didn’t get to finish? This time, I was mad because I wanted to know what the other seven little kid’s games inside of baseball are.

Here’s what I think they might be:

  1. A game of catch.

Tossing the ball around the horn, flinging the ball around the outfield, firing the ball across the infield to get a runner by a step …

  1. Hit a ball with a stick.

I don’t remember the moment but I still remember the feeling, the first time I hit a baseball so perfectly that I didn’t even feel the bat vibrate in my hands and I watched the ball go, not out of arrogance but out of sheer wonder: “Really? I did that?”

  1. Throw a ball as hard as you can.

Against a wall, against a stoop, against the stairs, against a tree.

  1. Throw a ball as far as you can

Nolan Ryan’s arm was discovered when a coach saw him throw a softball from one end zone to the other at the Alvin High School Football Field in Alvin, Texas. He was 15.

  1. Run as fast as you can.

Slow roller, down the line … line drive into the gap 20 feet to your left … fly ball to short right field while you’re standing at third … can you get there?

  1. Play in the dirt and grass.

Dive in the grass. Slide in the dirt. You might cut your leg sliding over rocks, bruise yourself hitting the ground wrong, twist an ankle when you don’t point your leg just so. But when a slide is right …

  1. Make a ball curve. Make a ball dance.

“Let’s see if you can hit my curve,” Ray Kinsella says to Shoeless Joe Jackson. Don’t we all want to know?

  1. Catch a high fly ball.

“Throw this one REALLY high,” I used to say to Dad, and he would get into this funny crouch position and jump up with his throw, the ball seemed to sky up to the clouds, and I would spin nervously underneath it, waiting, hoping …

  1. Argue about what really happened.

The ball was high. The ball was low. He didn’t tag me. I did tag him. She caught that. She trapped that. The ball was fair. The ball was foul.

  1. Chase good luck and steer clear of the bad.

Don’t step on a crack. Don’t step on the foul line. Wear lucky socks. Remember that each bat has only so many hits in it. Don’t break a mirror. Don’t talk to a pitcher throwing a no-hitter. Find a penny, pick it up. Turn your cap inside out. Knock wood.