Add That to Your Rule Book

The following post by Antoinette Datoc was featured under Local Voices in the Smyrna-Vinings Patch

Summer baseball is here! You can feel it in the air! The pitcher’s wind-up, the crack of the bat, and parents sweating in bleachers as they once again ponder the question: Why does my son’s baseball coach insist on wearing a full uniform?

I recently sweated my way through a morning at City of Palms Park, the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla. My son’s baseball team was playing the fourth of six pool-play games in the national metal bat championships (Perfect Game’s BCS National Tournament for you insiders).

Never mind that the opposing team was from Texas and their fans (a.k.a parents) were insufferable. Never mind that we should have won because we were better than them (yes, I’m chanting nani-nani-boo-boo).  Never mind any of that. If for no other reason, we should have come up with a win because the opposing coaches wore baseball uniforms. They did not wear loose-fitting, respectable athletic attire like our coaches wear, or the alternative smart khaki shorts and a polo; I’m talking full-out PLAYER UNIFORMS. Good grief, gentlemen, hasn’t anyone told you that Rule 1.11(a) does not apply to youth baseball coaches?

Since 1957, when Rule 1.11(a) was added to the official rule book of major league baseball, managers and coaches have been required to wear uniforms that are identical to those worn by the players. High school and college coaches have similar mandates, but youth baseball coaches are exempt from this silly rule.

And yet, there remains that smattering of youth coaches who insist on parading around, from cap to cleats, in full uniforms right down to the piping on the trousers and the six-inch numbers on their backs. Imagine this. Some innocent kid’s portly dad volunteers to coach his team. Come game day, having poured himself into what looks like some sort of one-size-fits-all coach’s uniform, he waddles his way out to the mound to make a pitching change. Collective groans emerge from the bleachers…Why, we all wonder, but not why the pitching change…WHY THE PANTS?

We’ve all seen it happen, and when it does, I confess I am like a moth drawn to a flame. No matter how hard I try, I find it almost impossible to stop from gaping at these plump men squeezed into their baseball pants. Once I do, it’s as if I’ve been staring at the sun too long. Corpulent silhouettes floating along the undersides of my eyelids tattoo themselves in my mind’s eye for all eternity.

Coaches, by all means go ahead and keep wearing your team caps and jerseys. But for the love of Pete, please tuck them into a well-fitting, age appropriate pair of pants. Try some Dockers on for size, or better yet, a pair of knee-length athletic shorts. Whatever you do, just please LOSE THE BASEBALL PANTS because regardless of how handsome, well preserved, and strappingly well built you are, you must remember this. Men of a certain age simply do not belong in baseball pants. End of discussion. (Add that to your rule book.)

© 2011 by Antoinette Datoc