I planned to write about another topic tonight, but my heart has found a different direction. Life is complicated. We cross paths with people in times that only the father knows why they are there. I’m getting older. Friends of mine have passed. I am curious to why they have been taken so soon. When things happen to people who are “good to us” it is hard for us to fully understand.
When I say “good to us,” I don’t mean to sound selfish, but human nature is to cling to those who have like-minded ideas and attitudes.
I am a high school softball coach, but have sought out enhanced learning opportunities of the game through visiting the other side of the fence as a travel and recreational softball umpire through the years. I have learned a great deal of information including the management of the game, enforcement of rules and strategies for game-play for my team through experiences behind the plate or in the various positions in the infield.
More than any strategy or rule in the game of softball, I learned from a local rec. and travel director: a lesson in the realm of loyalty. A semi-final game at the Troy University Complex during a high school travel association tournament left me in the air as to if I truly wanted any part of calling games at this level. There had been a judgement call that could have went either way for a local softball expert, so to speak. This call turned south for the local and his immediate take was to slander the credibility of the said umpire.
I’ve been a part of the game for many years and can’t say that I haven’t lost my cool in the area of umpire’s judgement. In this case, the coach was as far from right as the sun was blue, but there was no telling him that. The game was on the line and he hadn’t gotten the call he desired. I tried to calm him during the controversy but to no avail, he would not back down.
Little did I know that this coach would try to ruin any chance of me umpiring games in the Troy area for years to come. It almost worked, before a tournament director and friend stood up for me in the realm of assignments for future tournaments so much that he said, “ if you will allow these uneducated coaches the opportunity to assign umpires for a travel tournament, then you should find your own officials to work these games.” Not long after, the before mentioned scenario happened and those in charge would be finding their own officials for tournaments. The director hadn’t been on the field that night, but he backed me as much to say that he would stop assigning officials for these tournaments if they banned me from calling. I’m sure other factors contributed to his decision, but his kindness towards me will always be remembered. I was so far from being this worthy of his backing, but he saw something that he wouldn’t back down from.
Today, this father, husband and friend died unexpectedly. We hadn’t been lifelong friends and didn’t always agree when he was calling our high school games, but he knew his stuff. He also went to bat for a young in-experienced umpire that didn’t even know what colored pants I should be wearing for the game. Thanks for the memories!