Another Umpire Quits!
I wanted to share with you my experience umpiring last night.
This game for me, as an adult, parent, avid baseball fan, and longtime umpire is epitomizing why sound-minded adults have little interest in umpiring baseball games. I started umpiring at 14 and have continued to find an affinity for the craft through different spurts in adulthood. In 30 years of on and off again umpiring I have never imagined the level of poor sportsmanship, I experienced last night.
I was intentionally hit by a pitch. No, I do not have 100 percent proof. And yes, it is a huge allegation to levy on a 13-year-old kid. But I saw the glove drop on an amazingly catchable fastball. And more importantly, I saw the coach congratulate the catcher after the inning. I also saw this same coach (coaching third base) the half-inning before throwing a toddler-like tantrum, screaming, folding his arms in jest, and then kicking the fence in disgust on a close put out at third.
No, I didn’t have the best game. I was not 100 percent, but I did my best. Early in the game, I took a hard sharp foul off the mask that sent my mask flying. I still, 15 hours later, have a ringing in my ear from taking it square in the face. That is part of the game. That is what an umpire knowingly signs up for. But later in the game when the catcher blatantly lowers his glove and allows the ball to hit me because his coach told him to, is not what I signed up for. It is not what any umpire signs up for or deserves.
The game was close. I was in pain from being beaned, nauseous, and still dizzy from the foul tip to the mask. I knew I wasn’t sharp. In retrospect, I should have ended the game when I got beaned. But when the game finally did end on a called third strike, the losing coach verbalized his disgust and did not bother to shake my hand after the game. I have always understood very clearly that umpires are not there to make friends or earn appreciation. But the example both team's coaches set in that game yesterday is that the umpire is not worthy of common decency. And for me, that explains why there is an umpire shortage.
When I played baseball as a youth all the way up to high school, the umpires were county officials, schoolteachers, and lawyers – professional men and women who umpired to be a part of their community and a game that ties communities together. I certainly do not do it for the money. I do it for the same reasons the umpires of my youth did it. At present, there is something very broken in coaching contributions that make umpiring challenging in harmful ways.
I was evaluated after the game. I have a fractured elbow and concussion. There is a week between now and my next game. I should be okay to finish out my last scheduled games. I was going to send in my availability for the next tournament, but I have decided that I need a break from umpiring. I want to finish my last eight games and then I am going to take a few years off.
If you're still reading, I appreciate your letting me vent my frustrations. My concerns and anger are not directed at the official’s association as I have enjoyed being a part of your organization. I just wanted an avenue in which to share my thoughts.