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'If They Don't Win It's A Shame:' What's Happened To Youth Baseball?03:33

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ESPN has broadcast the Little League World Series since 1987. (Matt Slocum/AP)closemore
ESPN has broadcast the Little League World Series since 1987. (Matt Slocum/AP)

There are wall-to-wall televisions where I work, even though where I work is a radio station.

There are many mysteries.

Anyway, the televisions are always on, even though the sound is always off, and recently one of the televisions has featured 12- or 13-year-old kids playing baseball. Everyday.

There should be no coaches. There should be no umpires. Ties should go to the runner.

Bill Littlefield

When they reach the park, the kids should designate two captains. They shouldn't be the same ones as yesterday. The captains should take turns choosing their teammates, insuring that the teams are more or less evenly matched. Everybody should have the opportunity to play, including the kid who will be tucked away in right field until he develops enough coordination to play somewhere else, or until the day when so few players show up that nobody has to play right field.

While they await their turn to hit, the kids should not sit in dugouts. There shouldn't be dugouts. There should be wooden benches painted green with a lot of initials carved in them. Protruding from the ground in front of the benches, there should be the knobs of broken baseball bats that the kids have pounded into the ground with the energy they didn't use up playing baseball.

There should be no coaches. There should be no umpires. Ties should go to the runner. There should be arguments about close plays, and the various ways in which those arguments are settled should teach the kids not only to settle their own arguments, but also something about how some ways of settling arguments are better than others.

There should be three outs an inning in the games the kids play, but there needn't be nine innings. Or seven. The games should go on until the time when each kid has to climb back on his or her bicycle in time for all of them can make it home for dinner.

The kids would remember hits they'd gotten that day or plays they'd made or not made. Or maybe they wouldn't. Maybe they'd just be looking forward to the next game. It would be OK if the kids didn't remember the score. If asked, maybe they'd shrug. Needless to say, there would be no video to check.

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Bill Littlefield Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield has been the host of Only A Game since the program began in 1993.

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