Appreciating Little League Baseball's lessons

Appreciating Little League Baseball's lessons

The 75th anniversary of the inception of Little League baseball is going to be celebrated with a big birthday bash in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Saturday. A most worthy place to honor this connection between the twin souls of baseball -- where so many Hall of Famers, who once were Little Leaguers, are now enshrined.

As I kick around the significance of this unique anniversary, I can't help but think about the root of this "connection." A connection to a game that remains the one constant from boyhood, where baseball dreams begin, to adulthood. Connections, spanning generations, handed down to us as children, from ancestors whose attachment to the game is tied to a specific time and place. An attachment, a passion, they've kept alive because it makes them feel connected to that place.

Many carry that passion to another level, by grabbing a glove and a ball, and taking the field as a member of Little League baseball, playing a simple game in small towns and large cities across the country. Even as I write, my own thoughts and memories -- now shadows of a simpler time and place -- pull me back. Back to the "beginning." And here's the rub -- the sticking place: Where the significance of this anniversary resonates for me … at this beginning.

You see for me, this 75th birthday honors that beginning, that wonderful period of freedom and possibility of boyhood, of childhood, that special slice of life which the institution of Little League baseball allows -- the start of a baseball journey. And of a life journey. I can't help but note, and underscore, as a fan, and as a parent, the magnificent opportunity that this baseball birthday gives us to pause and reflect on the importance of this beginning, honoring the bigger picture that it encompasses. The places. The communities. The towns and cities where Little League baseball is played. The simpler times in our lives…of summer days spent with family… under the sun. A unique time filled with hope. And above all, this celebration gives us pause to honor those teachers and Little League coaches who spend their days investing, and inspiring young minds, while sewing the seeds of good sportsmanship, fair play and a respect for the game. 

And how to play it the right way. These vital principles build and mold character. Giving kids life tools to grow, and become better citizens. And Major League baseball players -- if they have the privilege. These core Little League values should serve as a reminder, especially in today's fast-paced and cyber-perfect world of instant gratification, that how we treat each other matters. 

That important lesson begins, at the "beginning" with institutions, valuable institutions, like Little League Baseball. But one other thing keeps floating across my mind's screen, a concept that goes hand in hand with this beginning is that of possibility. That possibility which comes with each season, each game, each at-bat and each pitch. These rhythms have always kept me inspired. I rely on them for wisdom. I have since the beginning.

My father instilled that notion of possibility in me as a boy as we played long toss in our backyard. Or listened to a game on the radio. Or watched from the bleachers in Fenway Park. And I believe, as stewards of the game, we have a responsibility to pass on the torch of possibility to our children. At the beginning. And if we do that, we acknowledge, support and encourage institutions like Little League baseball. And we support possibility -- earning our children's trust. So that when they look to us, they'll believe it when we say: If you put your mind to it anything is possible. And your dreams really can come true.

Marcus Giamatti is an actor who was a regular cast member of the television drama "Judging Amy." His father, the late A. Bartlett Giamatti, was Commissioner of Baseball in 1989 and National League president from 1986-89. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.