Originally published: Summer 2019
Excerpt from Notre Dame Magazine
I spied them on a distant field on the far edge of the vast athletic complex — one of those grand suburban facilities with multiple diamonds and an ocean of green-grass soccer fields with armies of brightly jerseyed children racing, chasing and kicking.
When I neared the stray ballplayers, I felt like an anthropologist who had stumbled upon an undiscovered tribe or a biologist who has spotted a species thought extinct. Here is what I saw. A happy-go-lucky band of 11-year-olds playing a pickup baseball game. Having fun. Capless, shirttails out. Left to the game’s essential purity: Hit the ball far away and race around the bases — until someone tags you out before you get back home. An elaborate game of chase, with the same ground rules I knew as a kid to keep it loosely competitive when you have only four or five guys to a side. Things like ghost runners, and balls hit to the right side counting as an out. And no walks; just put it in play.
In play. With no adult in sight.