Thanks, Willie: A Prayer for Little Leaguers

Every evening when I pull out of the museum parking lot, I see Little Leaguers warming up for the night’s games across Lakeland Avenue. It brings back so many memories — of playing ball myself and then of watching my kids play. It also reminds me of my late friend Willie Morris and his ineffable Prayer for Little Leaguers, which follows…

 

Prayer For The Opening

                      of

The Little League Season

By Willie Morris

Dear Almighty God,

This is a prayer for the kids of all the races and creeds in the boundless earthly springtimes as baseball once more commences, as it imperishably has and will in the ordinance and charter of you inxorable seasons.

First, Dear Lord, bless the childhood catchers in their awkward kneepads, chestpads and masks, their Biblical tools of ignorance

Willie

which protect all the boys with the valor to be catchers from willful injury and neglect, from the errant curve balls and the stray fast ones and the sharp little fouls that nip the mortal flesh like southpaw Philistines.

Bless, Dear God, the little infielders from the bad bounces and assuage the wounded lips when blood mixes with the infield soil, grant them the deft shovel dips and 6-4-3 double plays.

Bless the young outfielders from the misjudgments of long drives in the illimitable twilights, permit them the swift diving catches in the languid grass, and assure them the hard accurate tosses to the inmost diamonds with the runners going on cut-off throws or straight to the bags or at the corners.

Bless the young pitchers from all the erratic infliction as the line drives whip past their toes and heads and torsos, and give them the intrepitude of their fast balls and curves that they may outwit the fledgling enemy sluggers, especially with men on the bases.

Impart wisdom, Almighty Lord, to the young bullpens, which labor in anonymity as bullpens have through time and the Bible, that they too shall inherit the earth, for theirs is a calling as lonely as Ecclesiastes.

Preserve the little ballplayers, Dear Lord, from the wrath of their fathers when their children drop flies or boot grounders, for many is the father who fears not the timeless injunction, “Judge not, that ye not be judged”. Forever, Dear God, shield the erroneous boys from retributive daddys who know not even the infield fly rule.

Remind us, Dear God, that baseball will never die despite the covetousness of its highest priests, for its everlasting rhythms lie rooted in the earth, in the smell of the new grass, in the hot sunshines of the deepest Southland, in the enduring chatter of the bleachers, in the wafting cachet of the peanuts and the popcorn and the breaded corn dogs.

Above all, Almighty God, grant us boyhood and girlhood, where in time’s soft reverie we are forever children, and where baseball shall dwell with us always, and where sharp grounders are eternally fielded in the youthful gloves and the drives to deep center ceaselessly ensnared in the shoestring catches and the wicked curveballs met with two-run childhood singles to left-center to win in the bottom halves of the Old Testament ninths.

In thy infinite wisdom and grace, our Great Umpire in the Heavens, grant all this in perpetuity to all the baseball children everywhere.

 

Willie Morris

April 17, 1993

Jackson, Mississippi

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