I used to umpire adult baseball. I did it for two years.
I quit because I got tired of players screaming at each other. And screaming at umpires. And fighting.
I remember a game at Amador Valley High in Pleasanton where the runner for one team barrel-rolled the catcher, a play that left both players injured and in a heap.
Before I knew it, the benches cleared, words were exchanged – things like “Hey M-F, we all gotta go to work tomorrow!” – and punches were thrown. I remember it like it was yesterday, and it wasn’t. I swore that very minute that I’d never umpire another adult game as long as I lived.
And then I started visiting Eastern Europe each year to umpire. Two years ago, on my second trip to Lithuania, I was asked to umpire an adult league game between Brest, Belarus and Utena, Lithuania. I did the plate and had a blast.
On this trip, I’ve done two adult games – one last weekend between Brest and Vilnius, where I had 3rd base, and another Sunday, where I did the plate for Vilnius and Kaunas.
I didn’t even know anything about this most recent game until Saturday night, when two of our Lithuanian umpires, Z-Man and Edgaras, mentioned they were scheduled to work the game and wanted to know if a couple of us could join them.
So, I had the plate, Sam Griffith had 1st, Edgaras 2nd and Z-Man 3rd. Vilnius beat Kaunas 10-2 and it was a pleasure to do it.
First, these adult league games are lucky to get ONE umpire (there are only about 10 legit umpires in the country), let alone four. So the players appreciate the fact that you are there. Right from the first batter of the game, each player coming to bat shook my hand before stepping into the box. Kinda cool.
The game was competitive, but not over the top. No throwing of equipment or slamming bats. No one tried to take out the catcher – in fact, if the ball was already in the catcher’s glove, runners coming home simply allowed themselves to be tagged.
When the game ended, the Vilnius catcher turned, shook my hand again and said thank you. Players from both teams sought us out as we left the field and said “Good umpiring.”
It was nice to see that some guys in the 20-over crowd still play the game for the fun of it.