The End

Along with three friends, I am coaching a Little League team of seven, eight, and nine year olds. All four of us are in our early twenties. Needless to say, we are the only coaches in the league without kids of our own. Our goal? Utter domination. Throughout the season I will keep Pitchers & Poets readers updated on the goings on surrounding the team.

You may have noticed by the relative slow-down in posts on the Killer Bees. I am running out of things to say about the team. In any case, this will be the last post. The season is over. The Killer Bees are no more. We end the year with a record of 4 wins, 5 losses, 2 ties, and one unknown.

As it is for the players, the end of the Little League season is a bittersweet time for the coaches. We will miss the kids, we will miss (as they do) the time spent out of doors. But we won’t miss the baby-sitting aspect of the job. We won’t miss the weekday and weekend obligation that often felt like a chore due to the dreariness of the Seattle spring.

The kids, meanwhile, are on the cusp of summer, of camp, of family trips. Young Zach Greinke for example, missed our last game for a month-long trip to Italy with his family. This coach would have gladly traded the season finale (but not the ensuing picnic featuring great quantities of watermelon — by far the best post-game snack ) for a month in Italy.

The final game was a thriller. Down 10-6 going into the 5th and final inning, we managed to score three runs and load the bases. With two outs, young John Kruk emerged from the dugout wearing a sheepish grin. On his way to the plate, he said to me – I was coaching first base – “I guess it’s all up to me.” Aware of the gravity of his at-bat, yet completely apathetic about winning and losing, young John Kruk proceeded to strike out swinging.

Despite the result, highlights were plentiful: Young Frank Thomas made his first appearance on the mound. Young Eric Bruntlett nailed his first clean single of the year, between third and short, to an eruption from the spattering of team parents. (His dad jogged over to first base, camera in tow, to pat his boy on the back).

This group won’t be coaching together next year. So there is a tinge of sadness: we won’t get to see whether Young Shawn Green, who batted over .700, continues progress into actual Shawn Green or chooses to pursue another hobby at which he excels, like chess. We won’t get to see young Bruntlett take even bigger strides next year, or whether the team’s only girl, Dottie Hinson, sticks with baseball (she totally should; she rocks!).

But that’s okay. We are, or were, after all, just Little League coaches. These kids have awesome, engaging, (and generous – thanks for the gift cards!) parents, who will see to that stuff. We just hope they had as good a time this year as we did.

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