Baseball for the newbies

They say that you have truly learned something when you can teach it to others. I grew up around baseball, and I thought I understood the game well enough to explain it until I went to a Mariners game with a group of middle school students and sat next to a boy who had only been to one baseball game in his entire life. I spent the last three innings of the game (we were very late… long story) trying to explain to him what strikes, outs and innings were. Throughout our discussion, I kept noticing how many exceptions there are to the game. I’d spend a couple of minutes explaining a rule and then a play would occur that blasted the rule out of the water. For example, one of the players hit a home run. “Look Peter, he just hit the ball out of the field into the stands! That’s called a home run.” Of course, two minutes later, the next batter hit a foul ball. Naturally, Peter got excited and thought it was a home run, so I had to back up and say, “Well actually, see those yellow posts over there? If you hit it in between them, it’s called a foul ball so it doesn’t count and you’re up to bat again…” The game was just full of these! Oh and did I mention that Peter’s first language is Mandarin? I never would have thought that baseball could teach me so much about cross-cultural communication, or maybe just communication in general. Peter and I bonded over that game, and when the last out was called, he was just as excited as I was that the Mariners had won. On the way back to the church, he couldn’t stop talking about how great baseball was and how he wanted to go to another game. I was just glad that my inadequate descriptions had somehow made sense. I was sure exhausted afterward though… I don’t know how teachers do it.

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