My Case For A Little League Career
By: Connor Lenahan
Thanks to suffering from Osteogenesis Imperfecta, I have never been able to play for any sports teams, regardless of level of competition. No basketball, no baseball, no football, no nothing. It probably doesn’t help my case that I am 5’4”, somewhere between 125-130 depending on how much candy I have consumed and I cannot run or jump. Still, somehow, I have oddly athletic talents. Other members of my family, and some friends have claimed that I would be a three-sport varsity athlete if I did not have OI.
OI not only makes my bones weaker, but also have given me an oddly shorter stature (I have a wingspan of 5’10”, six inches more than my real height) along with an inability to grow definitive leg muscles, mainly due to fractures.
I don’t want to ponder on what could be if I didn’t have OI, because I’m happier with how my life has turned out with it. I want to think about a long-standing belief I have had even though I have OI.
I think that, as a soon to be 19 year old, I should be allowed to play Little League baseball. Hear me out, because this makes sense, I promise.
The immediate problem with this would be that I am around seven years older than the usual player for little league; therefore this would put me at an incredible physical advantage. My retort is no flippin’ way do I have a physical advantage over these kids.
I’m 5’4”, not 6’4”. That isn’t all that much taller than a normal 12 year old. Hell, there is a kid in the Little League World Series right now who is 6’2”. That guy’d be killing me, this is a fair fight.
Plus, I can’t run. As I was discussing this idea with Matt Gronsky, he noted that I would have to get what would normally be a double or a triple in order to hit a single. I am that slow. I am coming off of a surgically repaired shin after all. So I would have to absolutely tear pitches in order to have a decent batting average.
One weird talent I do have is bat speed. Thanks to the wheelchair and years of Wiffle Ball in my backyard, I can actually put a pretty good smack on a pitch if I get contact. Problem with this is I have less plate discipline than Vladimir Guerrero, and would most likely strike out more than the rest of the team combined. When I made contact, I guess I would have a better chance of going yard, but I’d be doing so with a batting average floating around .210, meaning I’d be qualified to be a New York Yankee.
I also cannot field at all. I haven’t been able to step sideways in years, and forget about me leaning down to field grounders. My back and legs are not in good enough shape for that. So, I would be relegated to three possible positions: Right Field, where no balls would come my way (how many left handers and/or opposite field hitters are in Little League?), First Base, where I’d have balls thrown directly at me with no need to run around, or Designated Hitter, which I am honestly not sure exists in Little League but would be by far the best position for all those involved.
Of course, there would be the possibility of me pitching. However there are two main problems. First, I cannot be that close to the ball being hit back directly back at me. No matter how we try to rationalize it, I will have to be careful things hitting me forever due to my fragility. A real baseball coming back off of an aluminum bat would shatter my hand, there is no doubt. Plus, even though I have a strong upper body, I can’t step through a pitch properly. This means I would max out at 40 MPH with absolutely no control and no other pitches. No team would want me as a pitcher.
So let’s recap what would be my resume. I cannot run, field or pitch well or due to safety concerns. I would play a position that would be designed to protect me. I can hit, but would need to destroy the toddlers in order to make a definitive impact and I would simply by design be a bigger power threat with no plate discipline.
If you immediately realized that I would be the Little League equivalent of Adam Dunn, you are paying great amounts of attention to detail and baseball failure.
Would it be a smart idea to have me play baseball? Of course not. I broke my leg walking to math class a few months ago; increasing the physical demands on my legs cannot be a smart idea. Plus if some kid ran into me, I could be heading for fracture #11. I do not want that.
However, would it be fun? Absolutely. I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with teams behind the scenes in the past, like the Abington Heights Basketball team, and loved every millisecond of it. Getting to play for a team would increase the enjoyment tenfold. I can only play Wiffle Ball and pool basketball and backyard football (with multiple protection rules including a “No Touch” rule while I play as the all-time-quarterback). Getting a chance to be on a real team, on a field of grass and dirt as opposed to my driveway would be incredible.
It won’t happen, but I’m going to keep my hopes up for an eventual exhibition chance sometime in the future.
I guess I will just have to stay put in Wiffle Ball, where last year I hit 153 home runs. This year I hit 85 before breaking my leg. I started playing out of my wheelchair about two months after the break.
I hit 36 more home runs, bringing my count to 121 for the year, and I’m nowhere near finished.
You know what, maybe sticking to Wiffle Ball isn’t the worst decision I’ve ever made.
Connor Lenahan (@ConnorLenahan) is the founder and editor-in-chief of Connorlenahan.com. He is a freshman at Boston University, majoring in journalism.