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Old 03-14-17, 01:24 PM
Yappi Yappi is offline
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Parent Confession: I Was a Chirping Coach. Now, I知 a Bruised Umpire

Had my first experience as an umpire last Summer. I can relate to this parent/coach/umpire...

Joe gave me a glare I値l never forget. He was one of our long-time umpires, and I was a long-time coach in our league. Like any coach, I did my share of grumbling about the umpiring.

Usually, I kept those complaints to myself, muttering under my breath. This time, I was a bit louder, and Joe heard me say, 徹h, come on! after a close play at the plate. As the dust settled, Joe痴 glare blazed at me straight through his mask.

Between innings, I apologized, and Joe waved the incident away with a smile. He was cool that way, but it all takes a toll. A couple seasons later, he announced he was hanging up the mask because he was tired of taking flak from coaches and parents.

Fast forward a few years. After my kids graduated out of Little League, I decided to give umpiring a try. Our league is always desperately short of umpires, and I wanted a good excuse to be at the fields.

I quickly learned how harmful my vocal grumblings as a coach were to my fellow volunteers. And, as a new umpire, the first thing I realized was just how difficult the job really is.

The strike zones are small, and the pitchers rarely throw the ball where the catchers set up. You can稚 see the outside of the plate well, especially with smaller batters, and the strike zone is wildly different from one kid to the next. One batter is 59 and the next one is 42, which makes a consistent strike zone nearly impossible to find.

Each game, you take a few fastballs and foul tips to the forearm, thigh, shoulder, facemask, or worse. That hurts. Some days, it痴 so hot out there that you池e wiping sweat out of your eyes, trying to get a clear look.

You learn that those close tag plays can be really hard to call, especially when ball, glove, foot, and a cloud of sand all come together in an instant.

You try to get used to the 田hirping from coaches and parents, the same chirping I used to do, but it痴 still gets to you.

Our league is tame compared to most, but occasionally a coach throws a tantrum in the dugout, and a few parents think it痴 their job to ride the umpires from the first pitch.

Spectators might realize that Little League umpires are usually unpaid volunteers who are spending a couple of summer evenings each week because we love baseball and softball, and we enjoy working with the kids. But, once that first pitch is thrown, any sympathy for those volunteers fades away.

What they likely don稚 realize is that umpires can hear and see just about everything. We池e constantly keeping our ears and eyes open for unsafe conditions. So, it痴 easy to hear that coach moaning in the dugout or those parents complaining behind the backstop. Even that angry guy sitting beyond the outfield fence is clear as day.

Yes, umpires make mistakes. Over the years, I致e missed balls and strikes and blown a few calls on the bases. But, like almost all umpires, I can honestly say that I致e never 堵iven a call to one team or the other, and I致e never changed my strike zone to benefit one team or another.

Volunteer umpires are out there to have fun, too. When coaches or parents ride the umpires, they are taking the fun away from everyone. The kids get upset. Parents in the stands think something is wrong. The umpire starts thinking this may be his or her last season taking this kind of abuse. It took me putting on the mask to realize that.

Most leagues are experiencing a chronic shortage of umpires. Our league has only a handful of regular umpires, and some of them have been around for a while. If a couple umpires decide they致e had enough, we may not be able to run the league. That痴 kind of scary.

I致e learned a lot from Joe痴 glare and my chirping. Now sitting in his shoes, when coaches or parents go over the line, I chat with them quietly between innings to try to calm things down. I reassure them that the umpires are doing the best we can.

I also tell them we池e always taking applications for any new volunteers who would like to strap on the gear and get behind the plate.
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Old 03-14-17, 03:06 PM
tallmadge H2 dad tallmadge H2 dad is offline
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This is the exact reason that I stopped umpiring our Little League. I take enough abuse from people I know. I don't need to get abused from perfect strangers.
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Old 03-14-17, 04:11 PM
OHIOVSTW419 OHIOVSTW419 is offline
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This is accurate. Ive been on all sides of this. As a former high school player, coach and umpire I will tell you its not getting any better, and it doesnt seem like its going to in the near future. Ive for the most part stopped umpiring anything under u-13 if I can help it. I help run the local baseball association. We have a good group of about 10 guys that we can count on to umpire our games and even have been fielding calls from local organizations to use our guys.

Its rough out there, and to top it off umpires are getting nearly 20 an hour to come out and its still very very difficult to find kids/guys to do it. Wont find many jobs as a 16-25 year old paying 20 an hour cash but guys just arent willing to put up with the crap that comes with it now. We have even seen a local organization that has 8 fields and a huge rec program go to 1 umpire per game unless its "travel".
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Old 03-14-17, 07:47 PM
irish_buffalo irish_buffalo is offline
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This story really hits home on several levels.

I played baseball and was pretty darn good (being a natural lefty helps). I went on to coach at high levels. I coached HS but I coached a national 16U team and it just so happened my best team ever was my youngest brother's team. We went everywhere and beat everyone (PR, Texas, Disney, Oklahoma, etc...). Every kid on that team played college baseball and four made it beyond rookie ball. It was a lot of fun. I continued to coach and it just became exhausting. I saw the evolution of parents from "hey thanks for working with my kid" to "why isn't Johnny playing SS?..."F you I'll go start my own team." I then went into umpiring because it was something I always wanted to do. DISCLAIMER: I kind of wish that I didn't because now I find myself watching the umps more than I ever did. Anyway, I was never an umpire hound or raked the officials. I always believed there was something I could have done better to win that game.

As an umpire you do see and hear everything. There are few moments these days that make you smile. Like a dad pulling his 10U kid in favor of a down the liner because he knows his own kid is the only one safe to pull. Regardless, today there are SO many DB dads that make what was once a great and fun game miserable not only for their kids but everyone involved in the game. And its never the kid, it is always the dad. Every U9 rec game to these super tool dads is the World Series and they think they can ride the umpire all game long with rules that they THINK they know.

Can anyone tell me where I can watch a good pick up baseball game these days? We did it when I was a kid and it would be dynamite to see. Purist form of the game. I'd even umpire for free.
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