I have had the good fortune to play baseball and coach baseball teams from Tee Ball to College Age. I have a number of great memories from those experiences but there is one from a Tee Ball team that I coached that has stayed with me a very long time.
One of the young boys on the Tee Ball team was a great kid who I will call "Tommy". Tommy was not as physically coordinated as some of his teammates. After several games and practices it was clear to me how much Tommy loved playing baseball. It was also clear, however, that Tommy was beginning to see the differences between his own capabilities and the capabilities of his teammates. He was becoming discouraged.
This particular day, our team was on the field. A player from the other team stepped out of the dugout taking practice swings like Hank Aaron. Tommy was playing left field.
Seeing the young player's practice swings, I became concerned for Tommy's safety. I told Tommy to move back, deep into left field on this little league diamond. Sure enough the batter swings (like Hank Aaron) connects with the ball, and off the Tee hits a long fly ball to left field. In the seconds from the hit and the flight of the ball directly toward Tommy, I remember standing holding my breadth. Tommy didn't even seem to be aware that the ball was headed toward him. However, at the last possible moment, Tommy stuck out his glove and the ball landed right in his palm. A moment passed and Tommy realized he caught the ball. It was the last out of the inning and he sprinted from left field with the ball in his hand toward the dugout and the cheers from his teammates, as well as the parents and friends in the stands.
As it happened, Tommy was due up to bat. Tommy normally required a little assistance with his helmet and bat to get ready to hit the ball. This time, however, he stepped from the dugout with a swagger swinging two bats over his head - warming up for his turn at bat.
I am not sure if Tommy remembers his catch in left field that day. I know that after that catch Tommy never seemed discouraged again during our Tee Ball season, and I am pretty sure that his catch that day helped to provide him with a little more confidence in everything he did.