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Spring is here! And baseball is on your block – John Cardullo

by John Cardullo, sportswriter

Spring is here! The time when Boys and Girls can’t wait to hit the diamond and get back onto the ball fields and help heat up the season.

It has been happening every spring since Abner Doubleday trotted out onto a field with three bags, some small balls, and wooden bats. The month of April marked the unofficial ending of the long cold winter and the start of the spring when every gets renewed. It is also when the boys and girls of summer get onto the field and shake off the fall and winter rust. Baseball and softball are back and everyone from the players to the coaches to the fans cannot wait! Like the season around us, everything is renewed and reborn.

Although the games of winter are wrapping up, professional hockey and basketball’s endless season will be heading into the play-offs where the play-off season can be as long as the regular season. College winter sports have wrapped up and the signal of that is the completion of the Men’s and Women’s Road to the final four when the National Championships are awarded.

During all this going on, the baseball world is in hibernation, or are they? Indoor leagues and batting cages have made baseball almost a year-round sport. For all of those players, coaches and parents who make the investment with visions of million-dollar contracts floating around in their heads, indoor workouts and training are a must.

From Woonsocket to Westerly, the players who are trying on their gloves and cleats for the very first time, and the start of where those dreams begin down the road. These players are looking to not only learn the game but go out and play with their friends and have (dare I say it?) go and have fun! “Little League baseball is a social sport,” said longtime coach Robert “Bob” DeCosta, whose family history goes back to the Cranston Little League some sixty years. His father coached, he coaches still, and his son has begun coaching. “Little League baseball is a family business” said DeCosta. “But for most dedicated coaches, it’s the pleasure to know that you made a difference in some boy or girl’s life. Teaching them to catch, throw and learn the game. At the very beginning, it’s not all about the winning and competition. It’s about teaching and watching the development and accomplishment of the player.”

In Warwick, longtime Coach Sean Rainey echoes the same message. “If the kids are not having fun in their first few years of learning the game, you and the sport can lose them, and they will never return to baseball every again. If that happens, we fail as coaches.” Baseball has always been a social sport that has so much individualism wrapped into it. Pitchers are alone in pitching; batters are alone when batting. But when each player knows that they have a whole team in their corner that’s when the lessons get learned that they are a part of a greater whole. “The fun of it is watching that timid kid walking away from his parents for the first time, the look on their face when they are handed their first jersey and hat and the excitement when the take the field with their team to play their first game, get their first hit, score their first run, or make their first catch. That, Rainey says, is what makes it worth wild for us coaches.”

So, for all your baseball fans, instead of doling out hundreds of dollars to go see a professional game, why not make a trek down to the local Little League field and watch baseball in its purest form, the way it was meant to be – actual players going out and playing for the fun and joy of the sport, with expectations of having a good time with their friends. And the score? Or who won? Well, who cares! Ah! Baseball at its finest, through the eyes of a child!

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RINewsToday

John Cardullo, sportswriter

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