Chris Johnson: The most patient people on the planet

May 4, 2014 

Patience is one of my virtues. Heck, it might be my only virtue.

It's probably because I very much have a type B personality -- with the B likely standing for "boring."

Still, I probably don't have enough patience for a lot of jobs. I doubt I could be a cop and listen to all the excuses and lies of suspects. I don't have the patience to deal with crying kids in a daycare setting. And I certainly don't have the patience it takes to be an archaeologist and dig up dinosaurs with tiny little brushes -- although I think I could do it with dynamite and backhoes if they're into more efficient digs these days. It'd be the archaeological equivalent of fracking.

Lately, I've discovered a job that might require even more patience than those I've mentioned -- and it pays absolutely nothing. I'm talking about T-ball coaches.

I've attended my first T-ball games this year. I know that seems strange that I had a child born in Columbus who never played T-ball. After all, you're talking about a town where birth announcements read, "Mr. and Mrs. John Smith announce the birth of their son, Bubba, who weighs 7 pounds, is a left-hander and expected to play third base and bat fifth in the lineup."

Yet, we waited until coach-pitch level to start my son in baseball. He was probably the youngest kid on the team and the only one without an agent. His job was to keep watch over any airplanes that flew over right field. After a couple of seasons, it was clear that he had a better chance of becoming an air-traffic controller than a baseball player.

But my nephew, Will, has begun playing T-ball at the age of 3 and has already recorded such impressive baseball feats as losing his cap and not wetting his pants. Unlike my son, Will plays the infield -- with about 18 teammates. His position is third-and-two-thirds base, where he supervises other kids who follow the baseball as it slowly rolls to the outfield.

It is at the plate, though, where the coaches' patience is truly tested. There are a few experienced sluggers who understand that hitting a ball off the tee requires hitting the ball and not the tee. These kids also seem to be the ones who know how

to spit. The others, however, swing like they're trying to chop down a tree. The ball's location on the tee seems to be irrelevant.

They get helpful advice such as "keep your eye on the ball" and "swing right here" and they nod in agreement before hacking a 12th time at the middle of the tee. By the time they accidentally make contact with the ball, the 18 infielders have become distracted by such activities as playing in the dirt, throwing their gloves into the air and crying because they just got hit in the head with a glove.

After the game, all the players enthusiastically participate in the ritual of piling on top of each other trying to get the postgame snack as if they are from some starving third-world country. Then comes the tradition of being ordered back to the dugout to get your bat, glove and cap you find one or more of them.

Of course, everyone who coaches T-ball or the Houston Astros is quite familiar with all of these situations. Yet, it's all worth it in the end, when everybody gets a trophy.

Well, except the Houston Astros, of course.

-- Connect with Chris Johnson at Facebook.com/KudzuKidWriting or on Twitter @kudzukid88.

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