Chico Escuela said, “Baseball has been very, very good to me!” Baseball is a game of life lessons and I have been lucky enough to learn from them as a fan, player, coach, parent and now umpire.
For the last four years, I have donned the umpire gear and officiated 100s of games. I strive to help our youth have a wonderful experience. The following are a few lessons I have learned from umpiring, that I would like to pass on to parents of youth baseball players:
- YELLING AT UMPIRES WILL NOT CHANGE A CALL. It will not help your child, or the team. Your child will copy all your actions. If you are complaining loudly about a call, or blame the loss of a game on an umpire, whether it is at the field, in the car after a game, or at home after a game, your child will lose respect for umpires.
Before getting upset ask yourself – Do I have a better angle than the umpire that is three feet from home plate? Has the umpire called that same pitch a strike all game long? Did my child not swing at two fast balls right down the middle before not swinging at a pitch on the outer half of the 17-inch plate?
I once umpired a ten-year-old game where the parents were chanting at me, “If you can’t beat us, cheat us.” I ignored it and hustled in the field as I always do. In the next inning, the right fielder yells “This umpire blows, that was a strike.” Obviously, he could not see the location of the pitch from where he was, however he heard and saw his parent’s behavior, and mimicked it.
- As an umpire, of course I have missed a pitch, I have misinterpreted a rule, and I may have missed a close call at a base. However, I have never cost a team a game. There are hundreds of calls and plays in a game, which lead to an outcome, not just one play or one pitch. If there is a problem with a call, PLEASE let the coach talk to the umpire. The umpires want to make it right.
- As an umpire, my colleagues and I spend hundreds of hours studying the rule book in the off-season. We attend clinics and take tests. Our assigners work hard to put us in appropriate level games. And we work on our craft at every game, to get better. Do you ever take the time to watch the umpires and see them hustling from home plate down to third base on a rotation play, or getting down the line to be in proper position to make a call? Do you see the umpires communicating with each other in-between pitches and in-between batters, to be on the same page? WE WORK HARD.
- Most umpires are spending their weekends at the field, not to make a living, but because they love the game. We work hard for the kids and want them to learn the greatest game there is!
My mentor told me this, “I am out here knowing that 50% of the people are going to hate me, and 50% of the people are going to love me, but at home 100% of the people can’t stand me. So, I would rather be out here.”
For the love of the game – Brad Herbst