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Old Mon May 02, 2005, 02:55pm
DownTownTonyBrown DownTownTonyBrown is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Idaho
Posts: 1,474

Worked some kids ball this weekend - not something I typically do. But surprisingly, the play was quite good for a couple of the games - better than the majority of my HS stuff this year.

13-14 yr-olds. Pitcher is rockin' !

Guess they were used to a larger strike zone than I was calling.

Pitch comes in high and out (just barely below top of shoulder and probably 4-6 inches out). "Ball." "Where was that, Blue?" I respond, "It was high." He responds to his pitcher, "That was a great pitch. Keep 'em right there."

This didn't feel like encouragement to the pitcher. It felt like arguing balls and strikes. While dusting the plate I responded, "If you're going to argue balls and strikes with me, you won't be here long. That pitch was high and outside." He looks away and gives no response. All is well.

Next half inning here comes the coach to say "My catcher tells me you threatened to kick him out." "Not really. I felt like he was trying to argue pitches with me. And I basically told him to knock it off." Okay. All is well again.

This pitcher's fast ball is really quite tremedous for his age. Batter's are not getting around on it. The coach starts telling the batters to scoot up in the box!? I'm thinking, what? (Somebody tell me what the coach was thinking.) So batters scoot up. Box is nearly completely gone. Same arrogant catcher now scoots up too - he easily has his mitt even with the back of the plate.

I call time and using the bat, draw a line where I estimate the front of the catcher's box should be. I explain that he can reach across but his feet must be behind the line. Again, he acts indignant. His coach has told him to scoot up as much as he can. "No. I'm sorry, you've got to be behind the line so the batter can swing the bat and so I can see the pitches."

Next half inning the coach comes out and wants an explanation. I explain. A little later the catcher requests that I draw the front of the batter's box because he feels the batters are getting too far forward.

I'm starting to get aggravated now but I'm trying to make everyone happy so I borrow the bat and draw the front of the box. Of course at this age the bats are short (not 36") so I incorrectly lay the bat down at the front of the plate and draw a front line that is probably 2 inches beyond the correct distance. The catcher now yells "Holy crap." I'm about two heartbeats away from tossin this smartass, 13 year-old peckerwood. "You're not going to start arguing with me again are you?" Again he looks away and silence. We continue. Batters don't even get within 6 inches of stepping on my too-far-forward line. Catcher of course is working his way toward erasing my back line and getting closer to the plate.

Obviously the catcher's box line is to protect the catcher from getting hit. Front of the batter's box is to prevent the batter from getting an extra step of a running start. One is safety. One is to prevent offensive advantage, or from their point of view, to give me opportunity to call an out in their favor.

Another inning or so later, the tournament director shows up to see how things are going - this is the first time I've ever met him. So between innings we are talking when here comes the coach again. He wants me to draw that front line in there again and in the correct position. He proceeds to tell me and the director agrees by stating the correct dimensions, that it should be 3 feet in front of the back corner. Not sure how we avoided any confrontation there - perhaps I had calmed down from the coach telling me how I should be calling things for him. By the time I was ready to make a response, he was gone. I drew the line. The batters were now standing even a little farther forward and probably within a couple inches of the now pretty close to correctly drawn line. Still no problem.

Rest of game went fine. Peckerwood's team won in the bottom of the 7th by scoring three runs. Final score 5 to 6.

So, somebody tell me why they wanted the batters to scoot forward when they couldn't get around on the fastballs anyway?

And as a veteran umpire, what would you have done differently in this situation? Besides not taking these pee-wee games. Some of the play was actually pretty good - and some was pretty poor. Oh well.

Rant off.
"There are no superstar calls. We don't root for certain teams. We don't cheat. But sometimes we just miss calls." - Joe Crawford
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