Saturday, July 4, 2009

July 4th international tournament

An international little league tournament is held each year over July 4th weekend in Nipper Maher park, a recreation facility that is only steps from my home. I can hear the sweet noise from my deck. This year ten teams are competing, seven from western suburbs near Boston, and three from Canada--two from New Brunswick and one team from Sydney, Nova Scotia--a seventeen hour journey from Nipper Maher Park.

At 8 this morning I was reading the paper when I heard the familiar sound of balls and bats, infield chatter, and parents' rooting for their children. I took my coffee cup and walked the 200 yards or so to the field. They have spruced up Nipper Maher for the tournament. A Canadian and United States flag are flying near the attractive dugouts. There is a decent little refreshment stand and a table of chatchkas for purchase. An electronic scoreboard has been erected.

In the 8 a.m. game a team from North Waltham is pitted against St. John, New Brunswick. A 12 year old girl named Amber is throwing change-ups and looks to be the winning pitcher in the 6th as the Canadian club leads 6-3. I look at the tournament bracket sheet and see that this game will be followed by a 930, 11:15, 1 oclock game. And then these are followed with games that continue until darkness. I begin to converse with a knowledgeable parent whose daughter will be hurling in a subsequent game. He points to another field in the complex which looks brand new to me. He tells me that due to the incredible rainstorms that have hit Boston over the last two weeks, that field is essentially under water. He shakes his head wondering who could have built a field with such poor drainage since the field where we are at is perfectly drained.

I walk around to the outfield and lean on a fence watching. A boy in right field makes a good catch on a line drive with the bases loaded and parents are gleeful in response.

No doubt the families represented by these children have their own aggravations and all is not blissful in their universe. But on this day it seems to me that they who are congregating here for an all day marathon of baseball are happy watching their children compete amicably. There is a seventeen hour ride back tomorrow night for the squad from Sydney. Look at a map and you will see that it is on Cape Breton Island, as far away as one can be from Boston and still be in Nova Scotia. It took me and three cronies four days to drive back here from Sydney many years ago. It will be a joy ride for these youngsters. Win, lose, or draw, their experience will be a joy ride.

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