At our weekly softball game played on the field off Winton Road between the Brighton Middle School and the High School, we don’t use umpires. Not until today.
As I am an umpire, I determined our game was lacking professional oversight. At our game, the general protocol is that safe and out calls are made by the closest player, and the catcher rules fair or foul. If there is uncertainty, others are consulted and a consensus agreement prevails.
True, in all the decades the game has been played, no one could recall a serious dispute. If anything, players are more likely to call themselves out on close plays. And at the URMC pickup game near the canal, umpires are not used — without incident. Ours is a gentleman’s game played for fun. But, from my umpire’s perspective, calls are made willy nilly and mayhem could erupt at any moment.
The game began smoothly enough. Using my 25th Anniversary USSSA coin, I instituted a toss to determine home and away teams. One captain chose heads; while the other tails.But soon, a dust up occurred at home plate. One player disparaged my call and suddenly became Earl Weaver reincarnated. Giving as good as I got — dirt wise — I sent the player to the creek to cool down.
Then other players began to imagine the Corners was the Major Leagues. Another disputed call. After Lou Piniella I and Lou Piniella II expressed themselves projectilely, I sent both to the now crowded creek.After yet another spat, Sam Kashtan thought he was Big Papi, ejected and venting in the Red Sox dugout. That made four bobbing miscreants in the creek.
Then, when I turned my head for a moment to wave to fan, after a hard slide at second, Mike Raff and Scott Davis recreated the 1973 National League Championship Series tussle between Bud Harrelson in Met blue and Pete Rose in Red red.
This Blue-Red rematch looked like a tossup. And now an even half dozen floating in the brackish water.
My patience was reached when a player in red dashed at me like George Brett in the 1983 Pine Tar game. His departure left us with too few players, and the game was called on account of rudeness.
The moral of this story is that our gentlemen’s game of honor is best left alone.
The game itself was well attended and well played, ending 15-14. And we had 5 new players — Dave Stack, Patrick Sutor, Ben, Sam and Brandon — a youth movement as all are under 21. The game has a bright future. See you next Sunday!And the good music playing at the Brighton Farmer’s Market soothed my distemper. This week the trio of Greg Herman, Kyle Vock and Matt Devan. Dean was there too and took the photo. His absence from the game was excused as he was enjoying father-daughter quality time. Incidentally, the life of an umpire is not all fun and games. On Friday and Sunday, I umpired 10-and-under games at Buckland Park in Brighton.
Friday’s game was a marathon of walks, wild pitches and passed balls. I got hit in the back with a ball. And, on another errant pitch, my athletic cup — though I kept the pain to myself — did not prove 100% effective. After Fairport got ahead by over twenty runs, the Mercy Rule was invoked.Today’s game was a better played, close contest. But the game went to an extra inning. And very close to another extra inning. And how many after that? But — mercifully — the first basemen held onto the throw and made the final out.