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The Girls of Summer

Lainey steps up to the plate.

My daughter Lainey is four years old and I love her. She recently picked up the whiffle bat and took a few swings.

Over the weekend the family drove to Brooklyn, NY, to visit some friends. One friend, Ron, organized a three-on-three, beanball, pitcher’s hand whiffle ball game in Fort Greene Park. During some pre-game batting practice, Lainey stepped up to the plate and cracked a foul tip on her first swing.

“Great job!” I cheered.

Lainey straightened her back and frowned at me. Not a mean or sad frown but a getting-down-to-business baseball glower I’d never seen before. Very intimidating.

When the game began, Lainey served as dog sitter for a friend’s cute mutt. She watched the adults play closely though, and yelled at me if I didn’t swing at every pitch.

“Come on, dad. That was a good one!”

Playing in a large park in Brooklyn, our game was eventually commandeered by some 9-year-olds. They were a tough looking bunch with that New York swagger and citied look in their eye, but Lainey was unfazed. She stepped up to the plate and the pitcher slowed his speed and stepped closer. A couple boys clapped and we all egged her on.

“Strike one!” Ron called, acting as umpire. He sipped his beer, straightened her stance and moved her feet off home plate.

“Good cut, Lainey!” I applauded.

“Strike two!” Ron called as she whiffed again.

Then strike three, four, even five and no contact. Lainey was dismissed from the plate.

“Good try Lainey!” I said. She nodded and did that baseball glare again. She watched adults and kids strikeout that day and surprisingly understood it was part of the game.

The next day we were back home and Lainey said, “Let’s play ball!” I grabbed her Strawberry Shortcake whiffle bat out of the garage, she took some cuts in our yard, and had a couple decent hits.

“Put the bat down!” I yelled as she ran around the cardboard bases, laughing hysterically.

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