There has been a great deal of buzz about how what should have been a perfect game between Detroit and Cleveland earlier this week ended up being a one hitter due to a blown call by the first base umpire.
It's been a while, but I spent some time leading the Palo Alto Little League Umpire progam while my kids were participating. This included training people how to umpire at that level, scheduling the assignments to games (what a nightmare that was, it was before e-mail and cell phone contact were ubiquitous,)and doing games myself.
That call the other night clearly was a mistake.
Here is what I tried to help our PALL umpires understand, mainly boys who were past the age to play at that level, but had had a good experience and also wanted to earn some money:
--you are in charge of the game, the coaches are not, even if they try to be. Nor are the fans.
--make the call, stand by the call
--remain confidrent when questioned
--position yourself to see the play
--read and read and read the rules
Little League umpiring is a very stressful job. I really admire all the boys over the years who went from playing at that level to umpiring at that level. I believe it is a good experience for them to learn about being good adults and men.
Here is part of what I said at the kick off meeting each year during the several seasons that I was responsible for the PALL Umpire program:
3 umpires are doing a game. One guy is just starting out. One guy has been at it for several years. The third guy is a crusty veteran.
New umpire starting out: “I got great training to be an umpire, and when it’s a strike, I’s gonna call it a strike, and when it’s a ball, I’s gonna call it a ball.”
Next umpire: “I started out with the same approach, and the more I do this game, the more I realize that I calls ‘em as I sees them.”
The crusty veteran weighs in: “Boys, I gots news for you both, they’s nuthin’ tills I calls them.”
What happened at the game the other day is the umpire made a call. A bad call. That led to a perfect game not happening.
And he did his job. He made the call.