Sunday, April 17, 2005

I can't help but revel in this: One of my umpires tossed a parent Saturday.

Not a good thing, I know. It should never come to this. It's utterly ridiculous that it had to happen, but maybe this early in the season it will send a message.

We don't have the issues that a lot of youth baseball leagues have. In our entire history, police have been summoned to a game exactly once. I'm not at all proud of that--it was once too many, but keeping things in perspective, it could be worse. Even the police-involved incident included no violence, just a parent who was ordered to leave and refused to do so.

It happened in a Minor League game. Minor League is the youngest level at which umpires call games. The plays aren't clean. The managers tend to be young and callow as do the parents. They're the worst possible games to call. The kids--hell they're there to play ball. But the parents are all keyed up watching their pride and joy playing his first "real" baseball game (and more than one father is pushing junior onto the field so he can relive his lackluster youth vicariously). And the managers, having grown with their sons through T-ball and Instructional League are now out to defend their manhood by putting a winning team on the field. Takes an adult to really f**k up a children's game...

Oh, and not to mention the fathers that basically force their kid to play so that they can "make a man out of him".

Anyway, I don't have a lot of details yet but apparently the umpire, a very smart 14-year old, warned the parent five times then told him to either hit the road or he would stop the game until a commissioner arrived with the official order to depart the field. I'm told that at this point the other parents stepped in and told him to hit the bricks. I'm glad that the other parents recognized that there was a problem.

I've made up my mind to be very proactive re. young umpires this year. By necessity they get assigned to call Minor League games as they need to be somewhat older and more experienced than the kids they're umpiring, but in a way it's like feeding them to lions. The youngest leagues have the worst parents and managers. The winnowing process is brutal. I have a whole lot of truly earnest kids who want to call games. By season's end I'll have half that number at best.

Brings to mind a couple of years ago when an incredibly abusive parent (more on her someday, perhaps) was carrying on about a judgement call and I finally turned to her and said "And I suppose that your son has never struck out". First time I've EVER seen her at a loss for something to say, and I've known her for 30 years.


Lilly said...

Well, people getting tossed out of games sometimes makes it interesting, especially if it's a Yankees/Sox game :) I agree that it only spoils the fun when it's kids. When I played softball in high school, my mom usually had to elbow my dad to keep his voice down, but he never left his seat and he wasn't saying anything bad, he was just really loud :) Hopefully you'll have no more unpleasant inicidents this season.

Snake Eater said...

I always enjoy watching Yankees fans get tossed out of games. I think they should build a new stadium with no seats. They can bring in cameras and televise games, but no trace of the most obnoxious fans in the US.

And there is nothing wrong with loud. One of my favorite fellow team dads from a couple of years ago works at a junkyard, has an absolutely Olympian beer gut and a voice like a foghorn. They could hear him in the next county. But he was never obnoxious, just loud. And a nicer guy would be hard to find.