A baserunner races toward third base. Photo supplied by Erica Miller

If you are looking for inexpensive, wholesome entertainment, consider spending an evening at your local baseball youth park.

Attending a game being played by the youngest Little League players is a breath of fresh air. 

If you have a child or grandchild participating, that would likely enhance your experience, but whether you do or not, you will quickly find yourself rooting for the success of all of the participants. 

The defense is ready to make a play during a game that ended as an 18-18 tie. Photo supplied by Erica Miller

I recently attended a game at the Hagerstown Little League Park in a “coach pitch” league game. One step above T-ball, the players who are in the six-to-seven-year-old age group celebrate achievements on the field and at the plate that will become routine in a few years as they hone their skills. 

The young enthusiasm the players display is contagious.

Any time a player steps to the plate all the fans become supporters, offering vocal encouragement, frequently using nicknames. “Spyder,” for example, had a large support group in the stands and he delivered several key plays. Even players who strike out are encouraged with “That’s OK. You will get a hit next time.” 

When players hit the ball and reach base, most jump up and down to celebrate. At the end of the inning, they rush over to seek positive reassurance and praise from family members in the stands. 

The offense usually overwhelms the defense, so defensive plays are also celebrated. 

The game ended as an 18-18 tie. Photo supplied by Erica Miller

In one memorable moment a batter lofted a ball into the outfield that looked like a sure extra base hit. Much to everyone’s surprise, Mason, an outfielder, rushed in and caught the ball on the run. In a few years the play will become routine; but it was far from routine at the moment and was cause for immediate celebration.  

The game was a high scoring affair that eventually ended in an 18-18 tie after six innings. Determining a winner was not as important as giving the players an opportunity to have fun and build self-confidence. 

Attending the games is a great escape from the burdens of life for a few hours, and the kids will appreciate your support and encouragement.   

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A version of this article appeared in the June 19 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Dan Harney is a sports reporter at the Western Wayne News.