Grammar scores a hit with baseball

Published 12:05 am Friday, March 14, 2014

Who knew that Dracula understands the infield fly rule or knows the difference between a no-hitter and a perfect game?

Every moment with my son is a teaching moment these days. It is hard to know who is the teacher and who is the student some times.

I would like to think I am the educator most of the time, but there are times when I am learning more about being a parent than my son is learning about being a 5-year-old.

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Anyone who has been there knows parenting is a hard job and the worry that comes with position can be all-consuming.

Does he know his entire alphabet? Should he be reading like the other 4-year-old down the street? Should he be tying his shoe at his age?

Unfortunately, like the saying goes, all worry and no play makes daddy a dull guy. Yet it seems like worrying is job No. 1 for parents.

When we went to the backyard to throw the baseball Sunday, it didn’t start out to be a lesson in grammar.

With the crack of the bat, the ball went soaring into the air and more times than not Gibson grabbed the ball as it came down.

“I catched the ball, Daddy, ” Gibson added

Each time in response I would say, “You caught the ball.” On a couple of occasions he would either nod in agreement or correct himself as he ran away with the ball.

There might have been a momentary rolling of the eyes added for effect, except for the fact he was having too much fun.

The English language wouldn’t be so hard if the rules weren’t so complicated, especially when it comes to the past tense of verbs like hit, run and catch — three of his favorite words these days.

It is not hard for him to figure out in most cases adding “ed” to the end of a word makes it past tense. The past tense of play is played. For cook it is cooked. Simple, right?

But it is not so easy on the baseball diamond. We hear the words “run,” “hit,” and “catch” now that the weather has warmed up and the sun is shining. So too, do we hear the made-up words “runned,” “hitted,” and “catched.”

So it was easy for me to offer the grammar lessons in the middle of our ballgame, even if Gibson didn’t seem to be paying attention.

The next lesson, though was mine to learn.

After hitting the ball a few times, Gibson convinced his grandmother to join in the game.

“You be the pitcher,” Gibson said as he directed his grandmother to the mound. “I’ll be the batter.”

Looking my way, Gibson directed me behind the imaginary homeplate.

“And you be the vampire,” Gibson said.

Looking to my mother-in-law with a slightly confused expression on her face, I hesitated.

“Surely, I didn’t hear that correctly,” I thought.

Having translated for my son before, I searched my brain for any hint of what he might be talking about.

“Oh, you mean the umpire,” I said suddenly realizing what he was trying to say.

“Yeah, Yeah,” Gibson said, as his grandmother and I laughed so hard we couldn’t possibly pitch, catch or swoop in for a kiss on the neck of our grammar-challenged batter.

Grammar lessons ended, and we began enjoying the moment and having fun as a family.

I’d rather be a vampire than a dull guy any day.


Ben Hillyer is the design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at