May 26, 2005

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

The local summer league ball season opened this week with a bang, as well as lots of rings. The bats were creating the bangs but the rings were coming from my telephone.

Abiís first t-ball game isnít until next week, but Iíll likely have been on the diamond at least two or three times prior to that as desperate coaches lasso me into umpiring their ball games for them.

Iím not very good, but if you have a pulse and donít use a seeing-eye dog to make it back behind home plate, you qualify for service. Itís not like Iím looking for a new hobby to cut into golf or fishing on those rare evenings when I donít have something else to do. Itís just difficult for me to say no. Iíve been in those coachesí shoes, and I know how hard it is to find an umpire.

Between weekly practices and games, Iím at the ballpark enough with my kids. I feel like the Godfather Ė ďThey just keep pulling me back.Ē And now that we live next door to the ball diamond, Iím an easy target.

Since I havenít been golfing or fishing lately I figured I would use this outdoor corner to perform a little community service for all these poor coaches. (Plus maybe Iíll free myself up so that I could actually golf or fish).

I would like to compile a list of eligible umpires. All you need is a basic familiarity with baseball rules and some free evenings and you can be raking in the big bucks ($10 or $15 a game). I think this would be an ideal job for college students back for the summer, or just about anyone who likes baseball and softball. Iíd even be willing to try to create a work schedule for the umpires, if that was agreeable to the coaches and the leagues. I could at least put these willing workers in contact with organizers to try and make things easier for all the wonderful volunteers that give freely of their time to coach and to run the local little league organization. Sure, I have ulterior motives, but I canít imagine too many coaches would complain if all they had to do was show up and manage their team.

If you would be interested in helping out these coaches, while supplementing your income, please call the Memphis Democrat at 660-465-7016 and leave your name and contact information. Weíll pass this information along to the baseball and softball leagues in an effort to help out.

Or I guess I could just hang on to the list and whenever a coach calls me and I canít say no, I can work the call list until I find a replacement. Iím at the point where Iíd even be willing to pay a bribe or supplement the per-game wage to bump the purse higher if someone would help me out.

Okay, the whiny umpire actually did go golfing this past weekend as he entertained family members at his home. But his game was so bad, he had to come up with something else to write about.

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