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Old Sat May 14, 2005, 11:17pm
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Last night (Friday) I had the plate in the second game of a state playoff series (2 out of 3) between Harlingen and McAllen. (Large division of 5A, large schools) McAllen won the first game, 4-2, on Thursday night.

I used the GD stance. I always do. I worked at least three and a half feet behind the catchers. I always do. I wore my forearm protection. I almost always do. Last week, in a 14u game, I didn't. Uh, oh: From now on, I will attach those guards to my jock so I never forget again.

The assistant coach of McAllen is Ted Saenz. His son, Josh, is the McAllen catcher: good field, slight hit. In the sixth inning Harlingen (home) leads 3-1. If they win this game, they force a rubber game back in McAllen today.

Josh leads off in the top of the inning and quickly works the count to 1 and 2 (grin). The next pitch is inside, pretty far inside, but he is back in the box. So he turns from the pitch and quite clearly (to me) flexes his knee into the ball. "Time!" I yell when he gets hit. He starts for first.

Uh, oh. The umpire (me) is yelling: "Back in the box!" I then signal a count of 2 and 2.

His dad rushes (not charges) down from first base. "That's wrong," he said. "He doesn't have to get out of the way. That pitch was in the batter's box."

Says I: "Ted, that's the NCAA rule, not the high school rule. And even in college...."

"Here's [Eliseo] Pompa [the head coach]." Directing his remark to Pompa, he says: "Can I keep him? Or do you want him?"

Says I: "Hell, you can both have me."

Ted ducks his head and stalks back to first.

I explain what I saw to Eliseo. "I'm pretty sure you saw the same thing."

Josh popped out weakly to first. The next batter walked, and the next batter smashed one over the fence in left: 3-3.

When Josh comes back for the bottom of the sixth, I say: "You told your dad, right?"

"I didn't tell him anything," he says.

"Well, that surprises me. You and I both know what you did."

He fires the fifth warmup toss to second, then turns to me and says: "You know, Carl, if it had been any other umpire in the Valley behind the plate, I would have been on first."

When McAllen goes back on defense in the seventh, Ted is marching by me and I say: "Did Josh talk to you?"

Says Ted: "No."

Says I: "Well, this is what he told me. He said, "If it had been...."

Says Ted: "He told you that? Well, I'm going to have to have a talk with him after this inning."

Says I: "Why? He's obviously the young man you and his mother have raised. Honesty today is somewhat rare. I don't think you want to detract from your teaching over one pitch in a baseball game."

Says Ted, head down: "Well, fuk you, you're so old, you've already heard everything." Laughing, he hustles to the box, and we start the sixth.

McAllen scores one in the eighth, Harlingen goes meekly into the night, and McAllen advances to the next round.

[Edited by Carl Childress on May 15th, 2005 at 12:36 AM]
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