Baseball Ink

Baseball The Way It Was Meant To Be

Little Sluggers

by PFC Damian J. McGee
Consolidated Public Affairs Office, USMC
Okinawa, Japan

They may not have a powerful swing, but every Saturday morning these little ones have a ball

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa, Japan—It's not often that you'll see a baseball player run with the bat after getting a hit, sit on a base and dig in the dirt during the middle of a game, or even try desperately to catch bugs while playing an outfield position—not unless you're watching the Camp Foster PeeWee League.

The PeeWee League, which includes children between the ages of 5 and 6 years old, is a season of nine games designed to teach children the fundamentals of the game, according to DeAngelo Blount, coach for the Camp Courtney Dragons.

"We want them to develop the skills needed to play baseball at their age," Blount said. "They learn the basics of how to swing the bat, hit, and, hopefully by the end of the season, catch."

The children operate under different rules than most who play baseball, explains Blount. Some of the variations from standard baseball include innings in which every batter gets a chance to hit and every player scores. Scores are not a factor in these games. What is important is what the children learn and the fun they have while doing so, according to Blount.

"Overall, we just want to see them have fun," Blount said.

"Hitting is my favorite part," said Kyle Reed, 5, Dragons team member. "I just like playing."

While the children enjoy themselves, parents have a slightly larger agenda.

"We think this will help our daughter interact with other children," said Scott Slattery, a player's parent. "It's boosted her confidence in relation to the things she can do. Now, she'll run after the ball, hit...she just loves to play."

Despite the resulting benefits, it wasn't very easy for all the parents to get the children to play initially.

"She already plays soccer and wanted to do cheerleading," Slattery said. "We just made a deal with her: baseball for cheerleading."

For other players, they hope to move on to other things in the future.

"I think I'm going to try basketball," Reed said.

Regardless of whether the children stick with the sport, according to Blount, they definitely come away from the season learning something.

"It's good to see them start off the season using a tee, not even being able to swing the bat," Blount said. "And they finish the season hitting. Playing now will keep them encouraged in the future."