Have you ever been called Stevie Wonder and had five dollars thrown at your feet while officiating a youth little league game?
Well, I have.
It was an overcast, humid afternoon that had the sweat running off my forehead like Usain Bolt in the 2016 Olympics. To add insult to injury, it was my third game of an almost 100-degree day and my wits were fading, fast.
Upon making a caught-looking strike three call, the opposing manager came charging down the line quicker than a cheetah hunting its prey in the safari.
He was promptly tossed aside like an unapologetic cheating girlfriend.
According to USA Today, over 15 million kids played youth baseball and softball in the United States in 2018.
I have been blessed enough to have been officiating youth little league and travel ball as a home plate umpire for over nine years.
Due to the coronavirus though, this is the first year I’ve not been able to officiate games year-round.
In my time behind the dish, I have officiated over 300 games all over the Southern California area.
Being a former athlete, walking away from sports was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my personal life. As an athlete, sports becomes your identity and shaking the complex of the competitive nature takes a lot of time.
As a home plate umpire, every move you make intentionally or unintentionally has a consequence to someone in the audience. Not every strike called looks like a strike.
Umpiring will also teach you a very useful life skill: patience. In years prior, I have been threatened to be jumped following the end of the game for doing what I was paid to show up and do.
When parents purposely live through their kids by enrolling them in youth sports, this portrays the worst of people. In my service time, I have had to console kids following verbal abuse from parents after a poor performance that mommy and daddy drove them super far to play.
Acting as a big brother figure to the kids I officiate is worth more than any check I’ve ever received from showing up to work.
As a kid, baseball was my life.
I lived on the road, and I understand what these kids have felt because I was once in their shoes.
Instilling good morals and values in my kids is why I strap up and get barreted by parents constantly on end in the beating sun under 10 pounds of gear.
It also doesn’t hurt my ego sometimes to police grown men screaming over a 12-year-old competition.