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Making a Quiet Wave in Little League

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I AM the father of two daughters, and my older daughter, Alison, is the only girl in the town Little League. This morning the league had opening ceremonies. The teams gathered on the town field, one team at first, one at second, each team at a position. The national anthem cranked out on a scratchy record into a bullhorn. Then the president of the league announced the names of the teams and the coaches. Since I am not a coach, I sat with the parents, brothers, and sisters in the stands. The president said the league was growing, that 400 boys had tried out this year. Ali told me she wanted to shout, ``and one girl.'' I looked down on the field at my girl, her blond hair hanging gracefully onto her shoulders from under a baseball cap. The sky was high and blue, the grass of the infield deep green. She looked up at me, and behind a brilliant smile, she made a private wave. I made a little wave back.

Alison isn't a good player yet. She is not some specially gifted athlete who easily competes with boys. I guess she is more a victim of her father's ignorance. When I thought it was time to teach my girls how to play ball, I went down to the store, bought two mitts, a wooden bat, and a hardball. It never occurred to me that softball was the ball game girls were supposed to play.

Last year when Little League time came around, my wife signed up Ali for something they call clinic, a pre-Little League gathering where the fathers of the town teach kids who can't throw, catch, or hit how to do all of them. There weren't many girls, but there were a few.

When Little League came around this year, Ali went for tryouts. This time she was the only girl in a big high school gymnasium filled with boys, some of whom weren't that bad. Ali struggled to catch, throw, and hit while adults with clipboards went around rating performance.


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