From the Sidelines


Tuesday night I had the opportunity to go see my great nephew, Charlie Jasenski, play baseball with the 8th grade team. At that point they were undefeated, and beat Piqua that night 6-1. Unfortunately, they lost the championship game against Troy last night 2-1. It was a great season anyway! These kids are good! Now, if they stay together, work hard, use that loss as fire for next year, and continue into High School, they could be something.

I want to go back though to Tuesday night’s game. It was a good game, both teams played hard, but there was one little glitch in the game all night. There was only one umpire, a young man who said he was still in School. He had no other help at all. As you can imagine, he was having a rather rough evening. He was doing his best, but you could tell he did not have much experience. The sad part was watching both team’s parents and followers getting on the kid every time he made a mistake, or made a call they didn’t like.

I felt really sorry for him.  He was trying to do his best, but I felt like he was intimidated by all the outside comments and noise whenever something didn’t get called their way. I have seen this in young officials before; indecision, doubt, fear, and wanting to do good, but can’t think or react correctly because of the pressure.

Put yourself in his shoes. Here he is, umpiring by himself, absolutely no help, both teams, coaches, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and everyone else blasting you every time you make a mistake, (and he made them, no doubt,) but put yourself there. He had no senior official to help him at all, to teach him, guide him, or help him in tough situations. He was on an island, and a damn lonely one at that! I watched him.

After a few innings, you could see the doubt in his mind, even on the most elementary calls. He was way over thinking everything, which young officials do when they are under pressure and really unsure if they are right. That young man did not need to be in that situation by himself! But, I am sure because of a lack of qualified officials, there he was, in front of God and everyone, trying to do his best.

I was always lucky, when I started, plenty of older guys were willing to teach me the correct ways……he had no one. NO ONE, and in a hostile environment.  Try that yourself sometime, see how you react.  In one of the later innings, I walked up to the fence and told him he was doing a good job for just one guy, and he just needed to calm down and think things through.

You should have seen his face!  He thanked me, mentioned he was still in school, and trying to do his best. I told him to just calm down, don’t over think things, and he’d be fine.  There were several people who looked at me like I was from Mars or something for trying to be the only person who could relate to his situation.

To those of you who think he was so bad, and I admit, you could tell he was young, why weren’t you out there with him? Those in the stands always know more than the officials anyway, so get out there and show me!

Get your license, buy your equipment, travel to everywhere, listen to everyone tell you that you suck, or worse, make enough to about break even, attend mandatory state meetings and weekly local meetings, get home late, and then rehash everything that happened all night, wonder if you were right, and then do it again tomorrow. Doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, does it? Believe me though, it is!

It is very rewarding working with young people, and watching them grow through the years.  Schools need help with officials, so please, please for the kid’s sake, help out if you can.

The next time you are at a game, in the stands, and yelling at the officials, remember this from Theodore Roosevelt:  “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, who’s face is marred by dust and sweat, and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat”

That’s the way I see it……from the sidelines!