The different ways to say "I Love You"
Introduction (For the Grown Ups)
Tonight we have a story about about a ball player, his family, and five different ways to say “I love you.” If this is your first time reading Bedtime Sports, (or you need a refresher) check out our "How To" post.
Questions in italics are designed to spark a conversation. Encourage your audience to participate, but also feel free to answer the questions yourself and incorporate answers into the story.
The man dancing emoji (🕺) indicates a section where you can add kinetic elements to the story. Mime an action and encourage your audience to join in.
Happy story telling!
(7 minute read)
There are all types of signs in baseball. If you catch a coach at the right time, it can appear like they are in a fight to the death with a swarm of bees as they brush their face and shoulders and chest and communicate secret signs to their players in the field (🕺🕺Go ahead and make up some signs for your listeners.🕺🕺) Infielders and outfielders will signal the number of outs to each other to make sure they are on track. Umpires call balls and strikes, 🕺SAFE or OUT🕺.
But if you were watching the Mets play baseball on August 17th, 2022, you may have seen a sign that you don’t see very often on a baseball field.
Have you ever seen this sign before? (🕺🕺make the “I love you” sign🕺🕺)
This is how you say “I Love you” in American Sign language.
🕺Do you want to try it with me?🕺
The sign for I love you is actually an acronym - in sign language, the pinky makes the letter “I,” your pointer and thumb for the letter “L,” and the pinky and thumb together make the letter “Y.” You mix them all together and you get “I Love You.”
The player making the I love you sign was the Mets’ third baseman, Brett Baty, and to get the story behind the sign, we need to go waaay back to when Brett stepped into the batter’s box as a four or five year old to play his first game of T-Ball.
Have you ever hit a ball off a tee?
In T-ball, the ball is much easier to hit than if someone threw it to you, because it is just sitting there on the tee, not moving. But even though it’s easier to hit a ball on a tee, it’s a lot harder to hit that ball very far. That’s because, according to a mathematician named Newton, things that sit there don’t like to get moving. A ball on a tee doesn’t have all the speed and the energy of a ball flying out of a pitcher’s hand that the batter can turn around and hit back to the field. Newton’s law says that in baseball, there are not so many hits, but a lot of home runs. In T-ball, there are lots of hits, but not so many home runs.
Well, five-year-old Brett had never heard about Newton, or his law. So he stepped up to the plate, and with his very first swing, he knocked that ball out of the park. Brett started to run around the bases. Everyone else stared with their mouths hanging open. Everyone, that is, except Brett’s mom. She took off running, just like Brett. While Brett rounded the bases, Mrs. Baty followed the fence, past the infield, around the foul pole to the spot in the grass where the baseball had landed. She picked it up and looked at it. She didn’t know her son would go on to play professional baseball. She didn’t even know if he was going to T-ball next year. But she knew that this home run was special, and she wanted to save the memory for him, and for her. So she put the ball in her pocket and when she got home, she wrote the date and some notes, and found a special place to keep it. Every time Brett would walk past the ball, it was a reminder of that home run. But it was also a reminder how proud his mom was of him, and how she would run all the way around a baseball field to let him know it. In a way, that baseball sitting there was kind of like a secret sign for “I love you.”
Brett kept playing baseball. And he kept hitting home runs. And his mom, and his sister, and his dad kept running after the balls and scooping them up. Soon he had a whole shelf full, and then a whole case. By the time he got to high school, the Baty’s had three cases with over one hundred balls in them. Every* home run that Brett ever hit was in a case, or on the wall. (*well, almost every home run. Mr. and Mrs. Baty admit that a few might have escaped)
Each one of those balls reminded Brett and his family of a specific home run. But they were also one hundred different ways of saying “I love you.”
Did you know that you can say “I love you,” in all types of different ways?
Some people say that there are five languages of love. According to these languages, you can say I love with your words, by telling someone they’ve done a good job, or letting them know how much they mean to you. You can say “I love you” by doing something kind or special for someone. You can say “I love you” through gifts, large and small. You can say “I love you” just by making time for someone. And you can say “I love you” with a hug, or a gentle touch.
What are some of the ways that people have told you that they love you, without saying “I love you?”
The baseballs in Brett’s house were reminders of his family using their words and cheering from the stands. They were his parents cleaning his jersey for him, or gifting him new cleats for a birthday. They were memories of long car rides to tournaments far away, and hours of catch in the yard. They were one hundred hugs, high fives, and hair tousels.
How can you tell someone you love them without saying “I love you?”
Now, back to August 17th, 2022. It was Brett’s first game as a big leaguer. His whole family traveled out to Atlanta to watch him make his debut. Just like hundreds of times before, they sat together in the stands. They watched when he played the field, and chatted between innings. And in his very first at bat, Brett did what Brett does. He hit a home run. The Mets fans in the crowd went wild. His family went crazy. In that big, major league ballpark, Brett couldn’t hear his family over the crowd. He knew they probably wouldn’t be able to hear him either. But he knew that there was more than one way to say “I love you.”
I love you.
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You can watch Brett Baty’s first home run and his family’s reaction here:
For tonight’s story, the traditional game recap of the homerun provided the jumping off point. Thanks to the Athletic’s always excellent Will Sammon.
I also owe the Athletic for the tidbit about the Baty family Home Run ball collection found in this piece by Zach Buchanan which led me to even more detail in this profile by Kirk Bohls of the Austin-American statesman.
And be sure to check out Ralphie Jacobs from Simply On Purpose for a kid based explanation of the five love languages. Ralphie’s blog, social media, courses, and conferences are all great resources for positive parenting.
Finally - if you want to show your kid some baseball signage, it doesn’t get much better than this scene from A League of Their Own. I’ve cropped the scene to avoid some language, but the full clip (and heck the full movie) is great family experience when your littles are old enough.
Art & Illustrations
Today’s illustrations come courtesy of Derrick Tan with the Mets Bat (Baty?).
And finally, Dan Bolenbaugh, and his Instagram account crap_art_daily where you can find, well, it’s pretty self-explanatory. There are a variety of Mets gems in there that we are hoping to share an highlight in future stories.
Did you know that every baseball field is a little bit different? The infields all look the same, but everything around that depends on the stadium. Some have high walls, and some low. Some have deep outfields and others shallow. When Brett hit a home run against the Nationals on April 27, 2023, it would have been a home run in 14/30 ball parks. Check out some of the numbers and data from the MLB Home run report (and click the picture to go to a link with an animation). How would these numbers (launch angle, wall distance, height, etc) affect if this ball was a home run or not in different ball parks
Acronym is word made by the first letters of a group of words or a phrase. For example, MLB is an acronym for Major League Baseball.
The sign for I love you is actually an acronym - the pinky stands for the letter “I,” your pointer and thumb for the letter “L,” and the pinky and thumb together make the letter “Y.” You mix them all together and you get “I Love You.”
Isaac Newton was an English Mathematician, physicist, astronomer, kind of everything guy who is credited with discovering and explaining gravity and the laws of motion. In regards to T-Ball, his laws say that an object at rest should stay at rest until acted on by another force. In regards pitching and hitting, he said that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Newton’s law says that in baseball, there are not so many hits, but a lot of home runs. In T-ball, there are lots of hits, but not so many home runs.
A debut describes someone or somethings first performance or appearance.
His whole family traveled out to Atlanta to watch him make his Mets debut
Try practicing the five love languages this week with someone you love. See which one “they speak,” or respond to. Let us know how it goes by having your grown up share an example and tag us!
More Story Ideas
Tell about a time that someone told you they loved you without saying “I Love You”
Share which love language you receive best, and which one you most easily use. Try to find a story to highlight both of them.
Do you have any physical objects that you keep to remind you of a special memory? What is it and what is the memory?