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Play Ball!
In New York

I took a picture of the field when the season ended and one of the empty dugout, too, and I felt a sadness in the passing of time and the ending of something -- even for a little while -- which is a such a wonderful celebration of the excellence of our children. Oh, I thought, canít we just hold onto these golden days, canít we just sit companionably together and watch the kids play ball forever.

Until a year ago, I had never attended a Little League ballgame and once attending one, I found I wanted to attend them all. I know, I know, Iíve heard the stories, we all have -- about the adults who forget this is a game, who behave badly, who take it all too seriously, who mistakenly think this is about them instead of about the kids -- but this doesnít mean that in its purest sense the game of baseball, played in our neighborhoods by our children isnít a wonderful thing. With each season new children come of age and begin the game, and older children move up, and eventually, having matured as people and players, they move on. It is intended that they learn a number of lessons on and off the field about personal excellence, about loyalty and commitment, about cooperation, and they usually do. They play enthusiastically in the wet and the dry, in the scorching heat and the freezing cold, whether large in size or small they play with enormous heart, they play united, they play winning and they play losing, they play for mom and dad and grandma and grandpa, for the aunts and uncles and neighbors, they play as our hometown heros all the way from boyhood into manhood, -- they do, in fact, grow up right before our very eyes.

I salute these young men who are the center of our lives if only for a little while, their eager young faces will remain in my memory, perhaps always. And I salute all the families that make such a fine commitment to the kids and to the game. For the sake of all thatís so very right about it, I say long live the spirit of Little League -- come on out and play ball, boys, play ball!

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