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Year Three
Time Out 2-28-24
Dennis D. Cruz

Hard to believe. This is the third year for my oldest son to be entering the batter’s box and playing baseball. It seems like yesterday that he was swinging a foam bat around the house. He always liked playing baseball. He would play with a plastic yellow bat and whiffle ball in the backyard.

Baseball was the first organized sport he played. As I recall he was a little nervous but excited at the same time. To be honest, so was I. Luckily, he was placed with a coach who he was familiar with. That made it an easier transition for him. He truly enjoyed playing for the coach and playing with his friends. Like most T-ball players, he was a ball of energy; lacked focus but did not lack effort. He (and all of the other outfielders) would swarm the ball as soon as it left the tee. As the season went on, he began to adjust to the sport and understood the flow of the game and knew once everyone batted, it was time to switch sides. Other than playing the game, I think he enjoyed snacks after each game. He would always ask “Who’s turn is it to bring snacks?” My favorite part of it was being an assistant coach. Seeing them progress and become a team who supported each other was definitely a proud dad and coach experience.

Following our final game, we went to the park and had a water balloon fight with his teammates and coaches. To this day, Austin mentions it and it was a highlight of his first season.

Last season, I returned as an assistant coach with his coach and staff. Some of his first-year teammates were also on our team and Austin was excited again. I was impressed with his improvement. He became faster, his focus improved (slightly), his attitude towards practice also improved throughout the season. The biggest thing he learned during the season was knowing where to throw the ball to get an out. He knew that there would always be an out at first base. When the season was over, we returned to the park and had an end of the season celebration like we did at the end of the first T-ball season. Austin really enjoyed it.

Like the winds of change, this year marks the first time with a new coach. We will miss our former coach and staff dearly. However, Austin had his first practice (just before I started writing this column) under his new coach. Austin really likes him and on the car ride home he said he said he likes him and is looking forward to playing again. I will serve as his assistant coach again and I truly like the staff. It is a small sample size but first impressions were positive; it seems like a good group of kids, parents and coaches.

When Austin gets older, I hope he looks back and smiles at his baseball journey through Oakdale Baseball Softball Association. I know as his assistant coach I will cherish this time. It really is one of my favorite things to do during the year.


Dennis D. Cruz is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.