Little League/youth baseball season is here again–a wonderful chance for kids to learn a wonderful sport and wonderful lessons like teamwork, sportsmanship, and how not look hurt when you get pegged in the arm by the fastest pitcher in the league.
If you’re new to youth baseball, you’ll quickly learn that there are certain types of parents with whom you’ll be spending a lot of spring afternoon and evenings with over the next several months…and the next several years. Based on Pat’s and my several years of youth baseball involvement, here are some that you can expect to cross paths with.
Anxiety-Filled Dad: Frequently the dad of a pitcher but really, it could be nearly any parent when their child is up to bat. Note the tenseness of their jawline, the nervous fidgeting, the involuntary twitches whenever said son throws a ball or swings and misses. Anxiety-filled parents are pretty common at games. If their child is pitching, or at the plate, just give their stress some room. They’ll be fine, as soon as the inning is over.
Spirit Mom!: And yes, Spirit Mom! should always be written with a “!” She’s the one who paints her face team colors when her son is still in tee-ball. She’ll make sure the team has a cool banner with all the players names inside little cartoon baseballs and she’s great when it’s her turn for snack duty. When her child is older, if they make all-stars, she’ll write his and the names of all his teammates on the windows of her mini-van, where it will remain til the start of the following school year. Spirit Mom’s! can be a little over-the-top but count your blessings if your team has one because there will be no problem determining who this season’s team mom will be.
Rich Parents: Every league has a few, and they’re in demand…not because their kids are unusually good but because it’s a safe bet they’ll have a pool for the year-end team party. Also, they frequently buy awesome season-end gifts for the coaches.
Gadget Dad: This is the guy who may or may not coach but he has ALL the gear–hitting nets, tees, thingys to help kids practice hitting and pitching and more thingys to help them with every other skill. Gadget dad is usually a good dude and will often share his gadgets freely but be under no illusion: you will have to help him pack it all back up after every practice, which means most nights dinner will be cold by the time you get home.
Private Lesson Dad: All he’ll want to talk about are his kid’s latest private lessons and what they’re working on this week. Sit far away from Private Lesson Dad…he’s already got it all figured out; he’s pretty sure his kid is going pro, and your part of the conversation will be reduced to short, affirmative replies.
The He’s-Yours-Now Parent: This is the parent you only catch glimpses of as they slow down just enough to kick their kid out of the car for practice. They will never help out, volunteer, and if they show up for games, they’ll most likely keep to themselves because they’ve made a point to spend zero time around the team or other parents. You would not be able to pick this parent out of a line-up.
The Whole Family Family: Pretty self-explanatory. This is the family for whom going to a game isn’t just a family event, it’s a family reunion. Which is great, but for 20 games, both home and away? Mom, dad, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, grandparents, sometimes great-grandparents…they all show up for every game and dominate the seating. Get to the game at least 45 minutes ahead of time or bring a fold-out chair.
The Delusional Parent: This is the one who truly believes their kid deserves to play every inning of every game. The skill level of the child doesn’t matter. If their child sits for even one inning, delusional parent starts hyperventilating. If their child sits for more than one inning, the coach is gonna hear about it. More than two innings? The board’s gonna hear about it. Delusional parent may actually not be aware there are any other kids on the team.
The Legend In His Own Mind: This is the parent, usually a dad, who knows way more than the coach and will take every opportunity to make sure everyone in the stands knows it. He second-guesses every decision and is never shy about pointing out what the team should be doing. He is also a guy who, for whatever reason, you will never actually see step up to coach.
The Bruce Bochy Wanna-Be: This is the guy who coaches from tee-ball on up, but his only real focus is that All-Star team, which he will also coach from tee-ball on up. To call him a control-freak would understating it. This guy scouts other teams–in single A! He’ll find his way onto the board, he’ll manipulate the draft, the father of the league’s best kid will become his permanent assistant and he is a firm practitioner of the two-and-one rule: any kid he deems as deserving the mandatory minimum of two innings and one at-bat..? That’s what they’ll get. Every game. The entire season. Because going undefeated in Triple A is just. too. important.
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