Monday, April 20, 2009

Baby-steps baseball

So, Sunday morning was Max's first baseball game, ever. We got him onto a Little League Challenger Division team. Dave and I left Sabrina at home with my sister and took Max, so we could give him all our attention.

Max basically wigged out for the first hour. Even though he loves baseball, he still gets unnerved in new settings. There were a lot of kids and parents running around, and lots of cheering.

He did calm down for a few minutes and tossed a ball around. But then he realized he needed to wail, so he went back to it.

Every kid was assigned a volunteer teen. There were also several coaches on hand. One of them, Kim, finally grabbed Max and took him, wailing, onto the field. Where he continued to wail and look around for us.

That's when I got into a conversation with Marge, the woman who started the team. Years ago, she went to find a baseball team for her daugher, who has disabilities, but she couldn't a team who would take her. So she started fundraising to build a field. And an amazing thing happened: a local woman who had lost her 26-year-old husband in the Pan Am flight that crashed in Lockerbie, Scotland read a story in the paper about Marge. This woman had won a settlement after her husband's death. And she donated the money to build the field. Incredible, right?

So, Max kept crying. Finally, I decided he'd had enough and grabbed him. And then, of course, he did the sign for "more."

After that, they got him up to bat, helped him hit the ball and he ran the bases.

Then he played the field.

Then he'd really had enough, so we made our way over to the snack table and he downed one croissant and one jelly donut.

Then he drove us home.

Dave hasn't said much, but he's thrilled. I know he's felt bummed over the years that he didn't have a little boy he could play sports with in the way he'd always imagined. Now, Max has the baseball bug. We went over to Target and picked up a tee ball set along with a lightweight bat and balls he could easily grip. And he played with it the entire afternoon and until it got dark, squealing with joy. Sabrina didn't even try to hog it (OK, she was preoccupied with the new Ariel doll we got her after the last one had an unfortunate encounter with Flarp).

It was a day none of us will ever forget.


  1. Wow! But however does he reach the gas pedal?

    All kidding aside, I'm so glad he had a great time and this team is available for you all! It looks like tons of fun-- hope there's something we can find out there for Connor in the future if he's interested.

    While "Flarp" does sound like a name that Ariel would make up for one the items in her undersea collection, she probably made a mistake in thinking it was part of a wardrobe. Hope her successor has better luck.


  2. Thats great Ellen. But is the team affiliated and chartered by Little League International? There are other private groups that do Challenger teams for disabled kids...

    I played Challenger around age 12 or so, but because I was athletic, but poorly sighted, I ended up being a buddy to a more disabled team mate... that worked out better.. We do not have a local chapter here, the closest is an out of town league... "Not enough interest" despite many postings in the local paper to start a team.

    If you team is affiliated with Little League; talk to the coaches; every year teams are selected to play at the Challenger Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA along side their more able counterparts.

    You make it, give a call, I'll come shoot photos for ya!... Whack' it good Max! :-)

  3. Ellen, I'm so happy for you guys! Baseball and jelly donuts - sounds like a memorable day. See if you can get some fried Twinkies at the next game. Daniel's daddy speaks highly of them whenever he reminisces about his Little League days, and they sound just disgusting enough to entice a young boy.
    Max, you are officially the cutest baseball player I've seen this season - and with Josh Beckett playing for the Red Sox, that's saying a lot! =) Keep up the backyard practice, buddy.

  4. Now, that's just neat! What a wonderful day!

    We have a tee ball set just like yours--it's a backyard favorite. Your adventures remind me that I'll have to dig that baby out of the shed!

  5. That post made me cry!!

    I'm happy you had such a wonderful, memorable day with your son - and thank you for sharing it.

  6. Sounds like a day that got off to a rough start but eventually came together to be a great day!

    I love the jelly donut face!

  7. Great post Ellen. :) Looks like it was a fantastic day overall.

  8. i am so glad that max liked playing baseball. the jelly face is adorable :)

  9. I'm all teary reading this post. I hope Ben gets a similar opportunity when he's older.

  10. I love Max as a ball player! That just rrocks. I bet he is just going to love those games more and more if he is any bit as obsessive as Regan is when she finds something new.

    Of course now I am craving jelly thanks for that!

  11. Wonderful, I applaud you! Mike was so upset that he was losing his "little football player". He always dreamed of a little boy that played football. He was even more built up when he learned my grandfather played in the NFL. Then we heard the news about Jude, and he was so let down. He has gotten over that issue, and this story will make him feel even better

  12. I am so glad I was able to help out so that my wonderful Max could have his parents' undivided attention. So happy he enjoyed himself and I am so proud of the way he holds the bat perfectly. Meanwhile, back at the house, Sabrina was playing with the flarp and made a really nice "princess" that she wanted to keep out for eveyone to see when they got home, so we left it on her play table. A few hours later, I noticed it wasn't there anymore, so I asked her where it was and she said "I hide it". Yes, she did hide it, in a little storage pouch in the middle of the play table, that also had other toys in it, one of which was her beloved Ariel doll. Luckily, the doll survived but unfortunatley, her purple sparkly skirt did not.

  13. I love that last picture of Max hitting the ball off the T...I can sense his determination, and he looks GREAT standing up to bat!

    Glad you left Sabrina at home...I'm sure she enjoyed herself and Max got his time!

    So have you decided on that third baby yet???

  14. The last photo is priceless!

  15. Hi Ellen

    Im going to try again and see if this works!

    I loved the photos of Max,he looked really cool and it sounds like you all had a great day out.

    love Deb

  16. Fantastic day and fantastic pics!

    Thanks for sharing Ellen. Max is a real inspiration!

  17. Wow, that sounds like an awesome experience! Go Max!

  18. 2nd comment!

    I told my husband about Max when he came home from work, and then showed him your post. He said if you're ever in Pittsburgh during baseball season, let us know and your family can have our Pirates tickets.

  19. It's so nice to hear how excited everyone is for Max! We are still on a high.
    * Rich: Yes, it's an actual Little League Challenger Division team. Last year, they played at Yankees Stadium! How amazing would it be if they did again this year? And if we make it to PA, you can be official team photographer!
    * Jo: Never had fried Twinkies, once Dave bough a fried Oreo at a street fair and I teased him mercilessly for days. But, fried Twinkies sound great for fattening Max up.
    * Julia, that is THE sweetest offer. I'm touched. I told my husband about it and now he thinks we may have to road trip to Pittsburgh!
    * Sarah H: We are at a standstill on child no. 3 decision.
    * Jenn, I hope you do show this post to your husband. Jude will play baseball one way or another. Caryanne, same goes for your Ben.

    Max was still swinging an imaginary bat when he went to sleep tonight!

  20. Ok, Ellen, you know I love you, but did you put your little boy in pink shoes? That last picture it looks suspiciously like he's wearing pink crocs.

    Moving on! Just showed all these pictures to my husband who like seeing Max do his thing, but probably most-loved the picture where he's covered in jelly.

  21. Katy, I am laughing! They DO look like pink Crocs! They are actually a ridiculously worn-out pair of red Cars clogs from Target. The face fell off, the wheels fell off, the color faded, they give his feet zero support, but they are Max's absolutely favorite pair. He even wore them out in winter a few times. You just reminded me, I really need to get him another pair.

    I know, I love that jelly donut photo, too. Especially that grin on his face.

  22. I thought I'd pop over and visit after reading your piece on 5 minutes. He seems like he had a thoroughly fabulous time.
    Best wishes

  23. Looks like Max had a great time once he got into the swing of things. Evan had a rough patch this past Saturday at his game. But they were short on helpers and I think he does better when the helper is not his Mom. I got Evan a t-ball set at Target too.

  24. Way to go, Max. Love it that he was wailing until you were about to leave and then signed "more"... classic.

    Also loved the jelly pic, reminds me of "Spaghetti Jimmy" from that credit card commercial.

  25. What a wonderful post! I'm so glad Max ended up enjoying baseball after all! I really want to get Kayla into the challenger league for baseball, but I think I missed the sign ups for it :( bummer


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