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Old Fri Jun 10, 2005, 12:53pm
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As anyone ever been asked to officiate another sport solely on the basis that "You're already an official; how hard can it be?"

I was reading the thread regarding the NBA Finals, but I couldn't comment on the game because I didn't get a chance to see it. That's because my wife and I went to go watch my nephew's Little League game (10-13 yr.olds). We ended up waiting for the game to start because no umpires showed up. Finally, my brother-in-law came up to me and asked if I could help umpire, along with one of the coaches from the other team. I mean after all, I officiate basketball, right? I meet the other guy, and he tells me I'm doing the plate. Huh? I've never umpired a baseball game before, I'm wearing shorts, t-shirt, and SANDALS, and I'm trying to figure out how to get my lawn chair behind the plate. So my wife runs home to get me a better pair of shoes, I'm trying to put on the shin guards and mask, and people want to get the game started because it's being broadcast on the local radio station, and they're running out of commercials waiting for the game to start.

Ok, even though I've never done a baseball game, I have umpired slow-pitch softball in my younger days, so I have a partial clue about rules, 2-person mechanics, etc. We had a ten second pre-game, which involved me saying I'll take plays at third, and what's the rule on "must-slide"? But getting down and calling a strike zone? With a mask on? They want to get started, so I tell the catcher his most important job is to keep the ball from getting anywhere near my feet. If my toes get smashed by a foul tip, he will be the first one tossed. And the game starts, with me learning how to call a strike zone the same way I learned to drive a stick-shift: on the job. It was interesting trying to concentrate on the pitches while the mask was too loose and slipping down on me. And I found my toes were curling into a fetal position just waiting for the impact.

Well, the wife makes it back by the end of the top of the first, I get better shoes on, I figure out how to tighten up the mask, and things work out the rest of the game. I only had to worry about a couple of close fair/foul calls, and a tag play at third, but everything else was "routine". The fans/parents from both teams were great; they thanked me for doing it (even during the game) and got me water. The closest thing I got to a complaint was a collective "Ooooooh!" on a close 2-2 pitch at the end of the game that I called a ball. The next pitch was a swinging strike three to end the 17-0 game.

My only complaint is my thighs are sore this morning, but I realized I was lucky it wasn't close and intense. But it got me to thinking if other officials ever got put in the same boat of being asked to step in someplace outside their expertise.
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Old Fri Jun 10, 2005, 01:07pm
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Quote:
Originally posted by M&M Guy
the 17-0 game.
I bet the losing team blamed you and your partner.
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Old Fri Jun 10, 2005, 01:15pm
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When my kids were involved with LL I got roped in a few times. I always told them I don't work baseball & have nothing more than a fan's undertsanding of the rules, they always smiled & said it's OK. Usually things went pretty smoothly but one game there was a funky play - on check swing the batter ran into a fielder and then contacted the ball and was hit in the back on the throw to first allowing the runner at second to score, among other things. I just kinda stood there thinking "Well geeze, look at that mess." I can't even remember what I ruled but it was obviously wrong, or so I was told by 1 of the coaches during the conference that followed at home plate.


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Old Fri Jun 10, 2005, 01:28pm
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I have had to work the bases before for a baseball game. It's kind fun to work another sport, expecially if you're wearing the right shoes and the game is not to intense.

I've also shown up to watch a nephew play baskeball while on vacation and had to ref the game because of no-show refs. I had on a collared golf shirt but everyone could tell I was not a player since I was about 2 feet taller than the kids.
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Old Fri Jun 10, 2005, 01:31pm
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I am not certified for baseball, but I have done a lot of Little League, Babe Ruth, middle school, high school Freshman and J.V. League games, etc. I have not done many lately, but I fill in on occasion. I have never gone through any formal training, and I am sure I would be in big trouble with the nuances of the rules and mechanics. I am comfortable umpiring at that level. I would have become a certified baseball official long ago, but the only classes for it in New Hampshire are a two-hour one way trip, and I am being stubborn. If they had a class that was closer...


Because people know I officiate basketball and because of my aforementioned baseball experience, I am occasionally asked to do middle school or youth league soccer. For those reasons and because I had a girlfriend 12 years ago who played volleyball, I have even been asked to officiate middle school matches. I have never had any significant trouble in any of those games, and the competition has never been too intense.
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Old Fri Jun 10, 2005, 01:43pm
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War stories..

M&Mguy,

I feel your pain. I've had to do it plenty, and it's never a pretty site, at least from my perspective.

Now, doing the plate. I used to do slowpitch men's softball and was sent to do a company league. Get there and find out it is modified-fast pitch, i.e. women are playing so no full windmill allowed. Still the ball is humming quite nicely.

Great! Pay is like 30 bucs and I'm thinking no problem. That is until I don the mask and crouch down behind the plate....then I think "Oh Sh**, no CUP!" Then a bunch of what if's run through my head...no CUP! I did the whole game with my hand between my legs. Figured a broken hand was better than broken, well you know what.

Anyway, your comment about getting hit in the toes struck a cord with me, and it wasn't my toes I was worried about either. And I know all about it since I did spend a summer behind the plate catching. Gave me a new appreciation for baseball catchers though.

goose

p.s. I was umpiring an all womens slow pitch league game and my partner who was doing the plate was hit by a foul tip. Hit him in his ballbag. Not THE ballbag but the ballbag plate umpires use to hold extra game balls...You see where this is going. Anyway, I'm out by the pitcher, a pretty thing to boot, and the ball hits him square. No problem. I yell in, "are you hurt?" He yells, and I mean yells back, "No, it only hit me in the BALL BAG!" At that moment, the whole infield cracks up laughing along with both benches, including me! He was clueless. Inbetween innings, I asked him did he realize what he said? At that point he got it, as well as turned about 4 shades of red!
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Old Fri Jun 10, 2005, 02:32pm
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Yeah, I got roped into working other sports three times. All three times I was a spectator and there were no-shows.

First was the 1956 World Series perfect game where I worked the plate, then Super Bowl III and finally I had to work the World Cream Corn Wrestling Championship last year. I'm still cleaning up from that one.
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Old Fri Jun 10, 2005, 02:34pm
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Goose, that's hysterical

Thanks for a great laugh on this Friday. I can just picture the scene where your friend talks about his ballbag at a girls game.

I gotta write that into a movie scene.
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Old Fri Jun 10, 2005, 02:57pm
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Quote:
Originally posted by M&M Guy
people want to get the game started because it's being broadcast on the local radio station, and they're running out of commercials waiting for the game to start.
Really?

Geez, I've heard you Americans like your baseball, but holy....

Well done, by the way!

Calling a strike zone looks really hard, even at the little league level.
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Old Fri Jun 10, 2005, 03:28pm
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Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally posted by M&M Guy
I meet the other guy, and he tells me I'm doing the plate.
Thanks for stepping in, M&M. I know sometimes I rely on transferability of skills. Looks like you had more than that.
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Old Fri Jun 10, 2005, 03:31pm
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Quote:
Originally posted by canuckrefguy

Calling a strike zone looks really hard, even at the little league level.
Had to fill in once for a scrimage. My son was none too happy with my strike zone and I just about tossed my own kid.

I did tell him to knock it off or I wouldn't feed him when we got home.
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Old Fri Jun 10, 2005, 04:04pm
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Quote:
Originally posted by canuckrefguy
Calling a strike zone looks really hard, even at the little league level.
I know we're on the wrong board for this, but it ended up not being as hard as I thought it would be. (But, in deference to our umpires on the board, still pretty difficult.) I did find some skills carried over - like, for example, keeping your head still. The same reason you don't want to be bouncing around when watching a play in basketball, it made it easier to watch for strikes when I kept my head still. And, of course, hustling to be in position to make a call.

Don't be too impressed with the radio coverage. The local station does a once/week little league game. It wasn't ESPN.
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Old Fri Jun 10, 2005, 04:06pm
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Quote:
Originally posted by stmaryrams
Quote:
Originally posted by canuckrefguy

Calling a strike zone looks really hard, even at the little league level.
Had to fill in once for a scrimage. My son was none too happy with my strike zone and I just about tossed my own kid.

I did tell him to knock it off or I wouldn't feed him when we got home.
Actually, I told my brother-in-law he was going to feeding me when it was over! (And, yes, there was a frosty beverage involved afterward as well - that's why I didn't get a chance to see the Spurs/Pistons.)
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Old Fri Jun 10, 2005, 09:28pm
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mark Padgett
finally I had to work the World Cream Corn Wrestling Championship last year. I'm still cleaning up from that one.
Men's or women's?

I've been asked to/volunteered to base umpire for the occasional Little League games in which my brothers play. They've never questioned one of the calls I've made involving them but, thankfully, there haven't been any close ones.

More often than not, I end up running the scoreboard - to the relief of the parents. (They can never keep track of the count, inning, score, etc. - and they get even more confused when there are a couple of 9 year olds running the scoreboard and messing everything up.)
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Old Fri Jun 10, 2005, 10:55pm
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Yeah, I've been roped in too. First time, started out doing basketball, then ended up adding softball and baseball. Got out of those because of a job. After I left that job, and got into my current position, I went back to softball, then one of the partners convinced me to do basketball, then another softball partner roped me into football. One of the guys I did football with was giving up doing track (starter) and suggested I give it a try. I'm a sucker for being roped in, but at least I only pick the sports I know something about. Had someone try to rope me in for soccer-no way! Don't know a dang thing about it!
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