Right There In Normandie Park

Reveling over their every move on the baseball field

By Alejandro J. Diaz
Published on LatinoLA: June 4, 2002

Right There In Normandie Park

Stuck in the middle of traffic one Friday afternoon after attending a conference downtown, my business partner and friend Adriana, and I caught a glimpse of a baseball game. So the question became, do we merely sit in this parking lot or do we pull over and watch it?

The decision was easy.

Normandie Park is located on Normandie between Olympic and Pico, It isn?t known to be one of the safest areas but from what we experienced that day it is one of the brightest. Unfortunately, the only time one hears about these inner-city neighborhoods is when tragedy strikes...the good that exists there is rarely spoken of.

We grabbed a seat in the stands. There were parents on both sides of the diamond lauding their little ones on. One team was made up of all girls while the other was a mixture of both genders. All of the kids were Latinos except for one African-American boy.

The fans had clearly come straight from work. One man still had his Coca-Cola delivery outfit on. It was obvious that this was part of their everyday routines. In a town where only celebrities, high-powered big shots, and multi-zillionaires get all of the accolades, it is important to expose the real everyday heroes: Working-class families are the backbone of any city -- LA is no exception.

To see these children enjoying this day with their families was humbling. The kids were between nine and ten years old. Llittle people with huge hearts. They enthusiastically cheered each other on, but also comforted one another when things didn?t go as planned.

They wanted to win, yes, but at the same time it seemed as if they clearly understood what was really important. They seemed to appreciate this particular moment in their lives, to know that being a child is fleeting, that one day they too would become adults with jobs, bills, and with children of their own.

But today, they were free to cherish the sun, the wind, their mothers, fathers, grandparents, coaches, and each other right there in Normandie Park.

Each batter was tossed a couple of pitches from their respective coaches. If they weren?t able to connect on any of them, then they?d get the opportunity to swing off the tee. When they'd finally hit the ball some of them, most of them, not knowing exactly what to do, would simply freeze

"Run! Run! Run!" was heard throughout the park.

Then it was off to the races. When they?d make it safely on base their smiles were all one needed to see to know that all was right with the world. Even when they were tagged out, the words of encouragement from teammates and parents alike made the players proud of their efforts.

I?ve always loved baseball, not the professional kind but the one that is played in neighborhood parks every spring and summer throughout this country. As a boy I too, was part of a team. Back then girls were not allowed to participate.

It makes me happy to see times have changed.

Girls can now also enjoy the camaraderie and the excitement that comes with being part of Little League Baseball. It also gives them a chance to bond with their fathers in a way that so many boys have done for generations. This is a good thing. I attended many of my own nephew and niece?s games when they were still little ones. Just recently, though, both have decided baseball was no longer for them. Part of me was happy to see them pursue other things, but another part of me was saddened to know that those days of reveling over their every move on the baseball field were gone forever.

As I looked upon these beautiful children laughing and enjoying this game of baseball, I couldn?t help but to hope for nothing but love, peace, and success for each and every one of them. And from what I saw that day, with all of this support from family and community, I think they have a real shot.

Sometimes we get so bogged down with the everyday struggles that we tend to forget that what makes life so great are the simple things, like cheering on a bunch of kids playing ball in Normandie Park.

About Alejandro J. Diaz:
Alejandro J. Diaz is a writer and filmmaker, originally from Chicago.

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