Put me in, Coach!

baseball_in_grass_200Spring has sprung, or is in the process of springing, in much of the country, and with it comes the national pastime. Major leaguers have been warming up in sun country for a couple weeks, and our young people are dusting off their spikes and swinging for the fences as youth baseball leagues get ready to start up if they haven’t already.

Every year at this time we are reminded of the words of Solomon 2:11 that our beloved Detroit baseball broadcaster Ernie Harwell used to quote as spring training got underway:

For lo, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land…

It’s a potent reminder that as sure as the sun rises, spring will arrive and our enjoyment of being in the outdoors will once again guide our Scouting programs.

It also brings to mind a spring anthem, the classic John Fogerty song Center Field:

We’re born again; there’s grass on the field, roundin’ third and headed for home…

I spent some time on the Mudville Nine, watching it from the bench…

You know, I think it’s time to give this game a ride just to hit the ball and touch ’em all, a moment in the sun

OK, put me in, Coach! I’m ready to play today. Look at me – I can be centerfield!

Fogerty’s lyrics speak of a young man who feels that he has what it takes to play the game of baseball, who dreams of slugging the home run that wins the game or catches the fly ball that marks the final out. He begs his coach to let him get up off the bench, to get in the game and give it a shot.

Spring, at least in the north, is also the season when outdoor camping ramps up. Sure, there are those hardy souls who hike and camp in zero-degree weather, but for most of us, camping, like baseball, is most enjoyable when the temperature is somewhat above freezing.

One big difference between Scouting and baseball is that we don’t have a bench. We don’t have tryouts, starting lineups, or coaches who decide who gets to play and who has to sit in the dugout.

In Scouting, everyone plays, and everyone can be the MVP. Every Scout participates. Achievement is at one’s own pace, and any Scout can reach the top without having to compete with his teammates.

More importantly, Scouting is a team sport where every team member is directly responsible for the success of the team. Patrols function best when every member participates and contributes. And, like a baseball team, when a team member is missing, the team suffers. Imagine playing a ball game without a pitcher, or even a first baseman, and you’ll get an idea what happens to a patrol when one or two of its members can’t make it to a campout.

It’s difficult for Scouting to compete with sports in terms of popularity. Where we shine is that we have a multi-faceted, diverse program that gets young people out of the house and into the environment, where they can discover, learn, lead, and have fun – and where everybody plays and nobody sits on the bench. Let’s emphasize these positive attributes of our program when we talk about Scouting to potential members, whether recruiting moms of first-graders or welcoming Cub Scouts as they cross over to our troops.

Image by hin255 / freedigitalphotos.net


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One Reply to “Put me in, Coach!”

  1. On multiple occasions I’ve heard a Scout say to his mom or dad that he would rather go camping this weekend than play ball. It’s so nice to hear that they enjoy the program as well as the patrol that they’re in. I’ve also had parents come to pick up their son to attend a game in the middle of the trip only to leave without them.

    I try to encourage the parents to allow their boys to pick their activities. Sometimes they choose camping over playing ball. Other times, they don’t. My own son will skip baseball practice or a game to go camping. Scouts and parents need to talk to the coach. Maybe the coach was a Scout or understands the value of Scouting. Maybe not… With some parents (and maybe the Scouts) the sport always comes first. That’s too bad.

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