A Day In The Life

On Developing A Thick Skin
May 23, 2007, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Odds and Ends


When I was the store director for Toys R Us in Salisbury, Maryland, my employees asked me to sponsor a softball team for the local adult softball league.  I thought it was a great idea.  Good community relations, publicity and all that jazz.  Most of my employees were in their late teens or early twenties.  Heck, I was still twenty-something at the time.  We even had the Maryland fast-pitch softball all state pitcher working at the store.   Of course the adult league played slow-pitch softball, but who cared?  We still had an ace pitcher and a lot of good, young athletes so we figured our team would be one to contend with.

I played softball in high school.  I was an okay athlete.  Definitely nothing special because I didn’t work at it.  I always viewed sports as well….games.  Nothing serious.  Games are for fun, right?  At our first team practice in Salisbury, I deduced rather quickly that my TRU team meant business.  They weren’t getting together to have fun.  Their goal was to dominate and win, win, win.  I didn’t mind.  It was great to see all that enthusiasm and athletic prowess in my employees.  Quite frankly, I wasn’t good enough to play on the team so, with a little persuasion from my managers,  I decided to become an umpire.

I got the official softball rules book and the league rules book and began to study.  I wanted to be a good umpire.  Fair, impartial and confident with my calls.  I practiced hand signs and called a couple of scrimmage games.  My TRU team and the teams we scrimmaged with were complimentary.  They bolstered my confidence.  I was ready for the league games.

The first couple of games I was assigned to ump at second base.  Things went well.  Oh, I got a few comments about needing glasses, but all in all it was a very positive experience.  Then I was assigned to ump behind home plate.  Oh. my. gosh.   My very first call was met with boos and hisses.  It went downhill from there.  The opposing team and their fans attacked me like a pack of hyenas fighting for a wildebeest carcass.  I was vilified, taunted and, in general, ripped to bloody shreds throughout the entire game. 

I stuck with it and finished out the season.  I even umped behind the plate several more times and was treated with respect.  We never had to play the hyena team again.  If we had, I might not have made it.  They were vicious. 

My Toys R Us team finished the season in second place and immediately began to make plans for the next year.  I volunteered to be the bat girl. 


9 Comments so far
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Sheesh – I will have more respect for the umpires next time I go to a game.

Comment by Karmyn R

I’ve been tempted to smack the idiots who heckle the umpire / ref. I was sitting behind a man with a PhD at a basketball game & he was worse than the college students — some of them even looked at him with disdain. I didn’t have the guts to tell him to put a cork in it, I still wish I had.

Comment by LeftCoastOnlooker

Bat girl?? you mean like Batman and Robin…

I do feel guilty, as I’ve bee a little rough on the umps a few times when the girls were playing softball

Comment by Pamela

Ahhh, I see your problem…going by the picture, you were at the wrong sport.

But seriously, I’ve umpired behind the plate (baseball) and it’s very unrewarding.

Comment by willowtree

I used to play when I was younger all the time. It was my favourite sport. The ones that are harassing the umpire really need to get a grip!! Some sports are taken far to seriously.

Comment by Tonya

At least it wasn’t Little League. Those umps ought to get combat pay. Parents can really get bent out of shape when their kids strike out. You were brave to even agree to do it.

Comment by Betty

Ditto Betty. My experience with Little League parents was not pleasant. I even felt bad for their children, let alone the ones on the opposing team or the ump. I figured you really had to love the game to put up with that. We only lasted two seasons.

Comment by gawilli

Umpires do not get the credit they deserve. It takes a lot to make a call on a play that happens in an split second… and then stand behind their call no matter what the crowds reaction! I know I couldn’t do it!

Comment by Jodi

I have been umping highschool and even some independent leagues for over ten years. At first, your right, it’s tough handeling the obnoxious fans. But I finally realized that that’s the part of the game i love. That a fan standing 50 ft. away can swear he is right and you are wrong when your 5 ft. away. It now just makes me feel even better because they know i am right, but the only thing they can do about it is argue.

Comment by Ian

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