Tonight was A.J.'s first baseball practice of the new season. He was supposed to start last week, but it got rained out. This season he is a Pirate; he wasn't real thrilled with that when he realized they are division rivals to the Cardinals. But, I think he got over it pretty quickly. The core of his team was together as the Pirates last year, and I think they will be pretty good. The kids are solid on the basics, mostly.
The real story of the evening wasn't any of the 7 and 8 year olds, however. It was Levi. Anyone who knows him in person will not be surprised by this. He was determined to be involved. He wasn't trying to bat, or practice throwing and catching. He just wanted to voice his opinion, and random thoughts that floated through his head. Aaron commented that he was the team's bench coach (the equivalent of first assistant coach, and takes over when the manager is ejected or cannot be at the game). I disagreed. I think he is front office material. He reminded me of the overbearing supervision and involvement of George Steinbrenner of the Yankees a few years ago. Steinbrenner (a.k.a. The Boss) has since mellowed, but now his son is picking up where his dad left off. Can't leave well enough alone or let his opinion go unnoticed.
If anyone said "A.J.," Levi went running (or riding his bike, whichever was faster) onto the field to find out why someone was talking about his brother. He mostly wanted to talk to Coach John (there are two Coach Johns, but Levi figured out which one was in charge and stuck by his side the whole time.) While Coach John was playing pepper with the kids, Levi stood right by his side, handing him a new ball. When the kids were introducing themselves: full name, school, grade, age, Levi was sitting next to them in the dugout. "Hey, Dad," he said, "What's my last name? Hey, Dad, what grade am I in?" And after every kid introduced himself, "Hey, I want to go up there!" Mostly, he was John's big helper. When John would call a kid to bat next, Levi repeated it. At the end of practice, when the team huddled up for the cheer, Levi was right in the middle of it.
I don't think the coaches minded his involvement, but I think they think he's nuts. And they're right, but I have a feeling this is one aspect of his personality that won't change much as he gets older. There's nary a dull moment with Levi around, that's for sure!