Holy smokes….how did we get to the end of June so quickly?
As I umpire high school and miscellaneous baseball games around the area that I reside in I come upon various situations that I find notable if only for the way that they stand out. They are as follows:
- I was working a 13U AAA baseball game as plate umpire where a parent had set up a Bluetooth speaker at the back stop directly behind home plate. It blasted classic rock anthems between innings and made the game more enjoyable, in my opinion. After the game I saw the parent retrieving the speaker and thanked her for sharing it with the rest of us. Her reply “Oh thank you. Sometimes umpires don’t like it played.” Well lady…THIS umpire enjoys AC/DC so keep doin’ what you’re doin’.
- I was working another 13U A baseball game. “Long hits to the gap where sure doubles are turned into singles” is what I thought as the entire line up could hit the ball well…they just couldn’t run to save their lives. Dead serious…I think I out ran them on several occasions.
- I’ve completed three complete seasons without getting hit in “the danger zone” with a wild pitch or foul ball. It’ll happen eventually…again…but until then I say a simple prayer of thanks. #deadserious
- On that subject….I was hit hard in the inner thigh with a foul ball earlier this season. A “son of a b*tch!!” escaped my lips before I knew it. After regaining my composure I apologized to the batter and catcher. “Don’t worry Blue…” the catcher replied. “I hear it all the time from Coach.” #bruisedbutforgiven
- I was squeezed into a concession stand for an hour with a bunch of ten-year old players waiting out a torrential rain (without much luck). Firstly…ten year old’s are still children…acting like children except when its something that they’ve totally bought into. “Yeah…we’ve got football camp coming up next month” one told me. “Is it pretty intense?” I asked the group. “OH YEAH!! Two hours a day for a week!” replied the ringleader in a serious tone normally reserved for only the most important subjects. “How’s the coach? He usually work you guys hard?” I continued. “Yeah. That’s him over there selling Laffy Taffy at the window.” The coach was a rotund man in his fifties…selling concessions to keep the boys in uniforms, equipment and baseballs. #laboroflove
- Secondly….ten-year old’s sometimes have little sisters who have to tag along. This group had a little blonde kindergartner sister who wasn’t satisfied staying on the fringes of this group of boys….she had her nose stuck in their business whether they liked it or not. From what I saw I think that most of the boys were fine with it….or just totally ignored her altogether. Later in the day an opposing team was chanting “we got spirit! Yes we do! We’ve got spirit!! How bout you?!” but before anyone could answer them they’d shout “WE’VE GOT MORE!!” This didn’t sit well with little sister and she’d yell back at them from the safety of sitting on a blanket in front of her parents lawn chairs. In-between innings I walked over to her and asked “you know that kid shouting that stuff…?” She looked up at me from behind the back stop. “I think he’s flirting with you…” I’ll say this…kindergarten girls know what that means because she just about cut me in half with her icy glare! Everyone else enjoyed my little jab….but her. #shehasthelooksthatkill
- Coach Talk: “YOU STRUCK OUT THE SIDE!!” to his pitcher. Technically speaking the pitcher being praised did strike out three batters...but he’d pitched through the batter order twice in the same half inning, allowing a ton of runs. Needless to say the game ended at the bottom of the third inning due to mercy rules. #18-0
- There are times during the baseball season when our sweaty equipment doesn’t dry out. Working day and night games…it gets old.
- “Hey Blue! Can I have a new ball?!” calls the pitcher. “Sure thing sport!” I reply. As I empty my ball bag into my hands I ask “do you want the one with grass stains or the one with a crease from hitting the back stop? I got this one that’s almost as dirty as the one in your hand.” Two pitches and a foul ball later he’s back to his original ball. #summerball
- “We’re looking for only the BEST umpires….” read the opening line to an email looking for help at a tourney that was sent to me. “How the hell did I end up on this list?” is what I openly asked no one in particular. There’s more games to umpire than umpires to work.
- Between rain-outs and a nagging injury that started in January with the basketball season, my umpiring season has fizzled out. I love to officiate basketball. LOVE. IT. Baseball is a springtime whirlwind affair. Assigners email, text and call…begging for open games to be filled with umpires. I get it….but I’m tired, sore and trying to figure out what’s in store for me with this injury hanging on. I’m serious enough to see my doctor about it for the second time. This….is unchartered territory for me. #gimpy
- My last game of the season. I enjoy being the plate umpire. I like being there for every pitch. Involved. Maybe its the showman in me coming out. I know that much about myself, I like the limelight. I’ve learned when to let the game go about its business and when I need to take charge and use my voice to keep things in order. When I’ve kicked a call I’ve admitted it. There’s a fine line between being arrogant and being confident. While I’m no where close to being what I could be….I’m still better than what I was. #workinprogress
- Sterling was one of my catchers yesterday at my last game. He’s a gamer. Loves the sport…I didn’t need to ask…I can tell. He’s a left-handed catcher…which is a rarity. His throwing style was to catch the pitch and then whip it directly in front of the right-handed batters noses. I could see that the batters noticed this…and I think it may have unnerved a few of them…being more afraid of being hit by the catcher than the curve ball missing pitcher. Did I mention that Sterling had a mullet? You just don’t see many mullets these days, and as far as mullets go…it was a good one.
- One of my pet peeves is players not hustling. I’ve been known to growl at players unnecessarily holding up a game. The hotter it is…the shorter my fuse. On more than a few occasions this season, as courtesy runners walked onto the field, to replace a runner at first, then slowly half-assed jogged towards first I, more than once, hollered “IT’S COURTESY RUNNERS NOT COURTESY WALKERS!!” The message received, their pace quickened considerably. #grumpyump
- My last game of the season had a temperature at game time in the high eighties. With all of my equipment on…I was sweating my ass off. True to form…the baseball gods sent the game into extra innings.
- For the second game of yesterdays doubleheader I took the field as the base umpire. As I placed my bottles of water along the fence I spied an elderly lady prying open a can of Pringles. I inquired “did you bring enough to share…?” “Of course I did. I’m a grandmother!” she shot back. (she didn’t offer up any for me either….)
Our games ended without fanfare…as most do. My partner and I fist bumped and headed our own separate ways until next spring when baseball is again played in weather much too cold, on fields that have just lost their frost, by boys who are still learning the game from men too old to play. I hope that I’m there. #Hiswillnotmine
Thank you for coming along,