So its Day Three of my May Staycation 2013 and going wonderfully. Its been several weeks since my last post so I’ll just post a few observations:
As I drove my Mother towards the rural cemetery were Dad is buried we had to take a detour off of the county road onto a gravel road that I was unfamiliar with. I learned to drive on gravel roads so I’m good with them, and if you’ve never met a tractor with a big-ass fold-up type of disc hogging most of the road while you navigate the declining edge of a gravel strewn road (getting out of the normal track) while doing forty….then you just ain’t lived yet. Anywho…we were slightly lost on these particular gravel roads (I spent most of my time on western Scott and eastern Cedar county gravel roads, driving my ’72 Ford Maverick like I stole it…its an art form). I remembered that I had recently joined the rest of civilization and had a smart phone in my truck and proceeded to ask Siri (the Apple computer voice “know it all” wiseass) for directions to Bennett, IA. My mother thought that I was talking to her and started up with “What? I don’t know…” until I shushed her and told her that I was talking to the phone(and that drew a look of “WTH” from my eighty year old mother). Within ten seconds we had our directions and Mom asked me how it worked. I explained it as best as I could “hold this and tell me when it tells us to turn”. It works…and Mom’s still a helluva co-pilot.
As a first year umpire I’m learning the ropes as fast as I can. I’m really enjoying it for the most part, except for the eight year old catcher who didn’t want to be a catcher and let two of the first three pitches that he was supposed to catch hit me directly from the pitchers hand to my facemask and shoulder. I was fine, but kind of disgusted. I called “time” then put my hand on his shoulder and told him “son…I don’t have a glove, you do. You need to catch those pitches or at least deflect them.” He did better after that. The pitchers mother caught up to me in the parking lot after the game and apologized. I told her that it wasn’t her sons fault that the catcher wasn’t catching the balls and her reply was priceless “I know…but my son just kept hitting you!” Thank God for good protective equipment!!
I was working as plate umpire at a small town this past week (I love small towns). As plate umpire I’ll “command” the batter to step into the batters box if I feel the game is being held up with him screwing around practicing his swing, etc. I’ll usually say something like “red…step into the box” if that team is wearing red, or if they’re the “Mustangs” I’ll say “Mustang” in place of “red” (its a horribly complicated system, I know). So I was in the town of Walker and since both teams were wearing blue uniforms I looked at the Walker batter and said “Walker…step into the box” and the catcher (a twelve year old mind you) turned to me with a smile on his face and said “A PUN!! WALKER STEP INTO THE BOX!” Funny stuff that I’m not making up.
Later in that same game a pitch skipped under the catcher and bounced UP and hit me squarely were men don’t care to be hit. The field umpire said that I made an audible “OOOFFFFFFF” when it hit me. I remember calling “time” and standing, taking a couplea small steps towards the third base line. I heard someone from the Walker dugout ask “blue…you okay?” To say I was light-headed is an understatement. As I was coming around to feeling a little better I looked out to see my partner Todd, instructing the pitcher how to do something (he was buying me some time) and he shot me a smile and look that said “take your time, I got this.” I got back behind the plate and the coach of the catcher who had just missed that passed pitch yelled “CATCH THE BALL OR WE’LL NEVER GET ANOTHER “STRIKE” CALLED FROM THIS UMP!!”
After the game I was at the trunk of my partners car, taking off my gear. As I said earlier it was a small town. Cattle grazed fifteen feet from us. We parked on a grass lot and giant grain bins were sprinkled around the neighborhood IN TOWN. The smell of hot dogs being grilled, freshly mown grass, and a ting of cigarette smoke wafted through the air. It was sundown and they had just turned on the field lights, time for game two and the field was being groomed and looked pristine. An old farmer in new bib overalls, a plaid shirt wearing a cap that read “NAVY SEABEES” slowly made his way past me. I asked “aren’t you staying for the second game?” He looked up and said “nope…those boys didn’t show much fight, so we’re heading home.” Then he stopped, took a step back towards me, put his hand on my shoulder and with a twinkle in his eyes and wry smile on his lips said “I see ya took one LOW tonight.” I replied “yes I did…and I don’t care to take another for quite a while!” We shared a good laugh, we both moved on, him to home and me safely to the first base foul line…none the worse for wear. I surveyed the gorgeous sunset, took off my cap and thanked the Lord for the moment. I hope that you have great moments like this too.
Have a good week,