For those new to Talker, one of our staple features over the last two years is reporting on the most important person at a baseball, softball or kickball game: the umpire. (I am a certified USSSA sports official). We focus on the men and women in blue and red who make the games happen.
After this near record spring rain, the games are getting into full swing, and it’s time for a look back.
I umpired my second game of the season on Friday at Buckland. The game was 10U (ten and under). Those games are fun, but not without challenges. At that age, lots of pitches are thrown. Lots of ball, fouls, swinging strikes and lots of balls skipping in the dirt or over the head of the catcher to the backstop. It can be difficult keeping track of every pitch.
On Friday, fortunately, the scorekeeper brought his laptop loaded with GameChanger software on which he seamlessly recorded each ball and strike as I was dodging errant pitches and the catcher was making his endless sprints back to backstop.
Then, the scorekeeper ran out of data! It was just me and my ball/strike indicator. And I missed one strike and awarded the batter an extra swing. Luckily for me, the boy struck out on his fourth strike, so no harm. Sir scorekeeper, next time please have enough data for all six innings.
10U games are fun but can be long, especially if lopsided. Last year at a Buckland Park game, during a blow-out, the mercy rule was mercifully invoked. (see Iconic America at the Brighton Little League Parade )
High School baseball has more dangers for the umpire. In No longer undefeated, East bounces back nicely, at an East v. SOTA game at Genesee Valley Park, we saw the home plate umpire get hit hard twice. Of course, he shook it off and didn’t miss a beat.
Last season began with 250 years of calling you out, the story of seven of our associations long serving umpires who have accumulated about 250 years of experience combined. Their story proved very popular. One gentleman kindly mention the piece has several time been shown at family reunions.
Next was the Brighton Little League parade where we met another kind of umpire, Brighton Town Court Judge Karen Morris. We also saw a volunteer umpire manning the plate at the high school field after the parade. (see Iconic America at the Brighton Little League Parade )
Then it was to the weekly pick up softball played for close to thirty five years at the Brighton school fields: Umpire added to Game at the Corners. Players subtracted. As seen in the featured picture, two players thought I made a bad call. Luckily, our state-of-the-art video proved I was correct when the play was reviewed in New York. As I was umpiring and playing, at one point I found myself arguing with myself and had to throw myself out of the game.
Then it was to Genesee Valley Park. Umpires have to be tough guys. As seen in Promoting Wellness through softball at the URMC, last year I as hit by a softball, only to be brought back from a near death experience by a team of medical interns. And this year, the same thing happened, only to be saved by another medical intern.
That day led to The difference between softball and kick ball: Shotgunning, one of our all time fan favorites. For that article, we enacted a dramatic rendering of a guy and a girl facing off in the Shotgun. Apparently, the picture of the girl pounding her beer faster that the guy was shown on cell phones frequently at bars after games.
Next was The Roberto Clemente Men’s Hispanic Softball League is back! where umpire Henderson Humphries was calling balls and strikes at Edgerton Park.
Another fan favorite was The difference between guys and girls in coed softball at Brighton Town Park. This piece is a participant/observer essay that records sociological data on how the genders differently conceptualize softball. Apparently, both genders found the article amusing.
Finally, two season ago, in The 8th Annual Festival of Softball: After 800 Innings the “Tribute to Noah” nears $100,000, we looked at another kind of sports official, the official scorekeeper, in this case the two women who announced batters and kept score for all 100 innings of a 100 inning fundraising game played at Cobb’s Hill.
In the 98th inning, I was allowed to pinch hit. As captured in the video, the man in blue correctly called me out at first.