Both of my sons began playing at a young age, which combined with the fact that my husband is a self- described baseball “geek” pretty much forced me to embrace baseball. Dodgers and Angels telecasts along with MLB network are TV staples at my house during the summer months and of course, all of the running around to weekend baseball tournaments has really helped me learn things about “America’s past time.” Although I have picked up a lot, I feel I’m just scratching the surface.
On a recent weekend, my oldest son Tyler participated in a very competitive 3-day baseball tournament in San Diego. It was his first tournament with a new team that had brought him on board and although I’m always there cheering him on, I rarely feel apprehensive or nervous for him. But in this particular instance I did, especially because he had such a great experience with his prior team and coaches. I was hopeful his new team would work out in a similar way. Adding to this was the fact that there were some very good teams playing in the tournament – one of those being the Korean National Team, who traveled all the way from Asia to play baseball. The kids were wearing the familiar white and blue uniforms you see Korea wear in the World Baseball Classic and Little League World Series (credit my husband for pointing out that tidbit to me).
I was taken back at how respectful the Korean players were towards their coaches and basically anyone saying hello. Always stopping, tipping their caps, and in some instances even bowing. They were equally as impressive on the field – so disciplined in everything they did, always hustling, and boy could they hit! As far as their pitchers, it is the hardest I have seen kids throw in the 12-13 age group. You could hear the “hiss” of the baseball as it made its way to home plate and almost feel the thumping sound made as the ball hit the catcher’s mitt.
Tyler’s team was not matched up against the Korean Team during the opening rounds of the tournament. However, on the final day, the brackets showed that they would indeed be playing the Korean National Team. Tyler was excited (as was I); how often does a kid get a chance to play a Team that represents another country? The kid on the mound from Korea had quite an arm. Tyler’s team was hanging in there however, down only 3-1 after 4 innings so there was hope that if things stayed close, perhaps they could mount a comeback. And indeed they did, winning the game 4-3. The Korean kids looked disappointed, however they were so gracious as they lined up and bowed to the crowd at the conclusion of the post-game handshakes.
After the game, Tyler presented his Korean counterpart who wore the same number (23) with a USA Baseball wristband. The Korean youngster seemed very happy to receive the small token of baseball camaraderie and right away said “thank you.” It also provided a great photo-op! Needless to say, it was a wonderful experience for Tyler and it was a pleasure to see kids from a different culture representing their country in such an awesome way – both on and off of the baseball field.