Difficult to understand dugout chatter these days

Published 9:21 am Thursday, March 9, 2017

By Joel McNeece

You learn a lot of things in high school baseball and softball dugouts — whose grandmother dips snuff, which boys are “cute,” what not to order at the concession stand, and a variety of unique cheers, taunts and celebrations.

Last Friday night I made the rounds to four different ball games in Calhoun County. I started at Calhoun City where the Wildcats were hosting Hatley. I don’t know where it comes from but around five years ago baseball teams started referring to all their teammates as “kid.”

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“Atta kid,” is the most common phrase heard in baseball these days after anything even slightly positive. They say it so often and so fast it often comes out “kit,” which I’m guessing is intentional. Before everybody was a “kid” they were numbers.

“Let’s go seven,” they would yell to the player wearing number seven. That was easier for me to understand than “kid,” but even then I thought what’s wrong with just calling players by name?

I left the Wildcats and arrived at Calhoun Academy where the Cougars were hosting Strider. I made my way into the Cougar dugout and received some honest critiques of pictures as I shot them and a host of other commentary that was obviously not intended for my ears, but I found entertaining nonetheless.

A player on first kept staring at Coach Jon Hood trying to get a sign. It wasn’t working, so Asst. Coach Benny Bryant tried whispering, “steal.” That wasn’t working either. Finally, an exasperated Coach Hood just yelled “steal!” from third base. The dugout got a good laugh over that one.

I left Pittsboro and headed back to Calhoun City to the softball field where the Lady Wildcats were hosting Vardaman. I started in the Lady Rams’ dugout with my camera aimed at home plate. That’s when the chants started, which are a big part of any softball game. A questionable strike was called on a Lady Ram batter and the dugout erupted with “Taco, burrito, nacho pitch.”

First base coach Charlesy Lovorn looked at me shaking her head in befuddlement, but I remember not too many years ago Charlesy in the Lady Wildcat dugout screaming just as crazy lines, just as loudly. In fact, Calhoun City Asst. Coach Taylor Moore was one of the loudest I’ve ever heard in her playing days as a Lady Trojan.  “Jump on it!” she would scream to a fellow Bruce batter almost musically as if it’s all one word.

I was with the Bruce Lady Trojans Monday when it was a long chorus of “hit the ball” and a new chant for me — “Six-story Tori.” I can’t explain.

My last stop Friday was Odis Logan Field at Bruce Park for the Trojans’ game. The Bruce dugout has its share of “atta kids,” but they specialize in crazy noises, from loud screeches to a squeaky screen door.

Once upon a time it was “hey batter, batter, swing.” Now it’s “you da kid” and blood curdling screams. I guess at my age, there are some things you’re just not meant to understand.

Joel McNeece is publisher of The Calhoun County Journal in Bruce. You may email him at joelmcneece@gmail.com.