After seeing my blog stats crash and burn over the past week, it might be time to get back to bread and circuses. Seth Godin says blog stats don’t matter, but I’m not as self-actualized as Seth is. I guess writing about education, post-industrial collapse, and even food is way too controversial for most people. While I don’t plan to start tackling certain kinds of pop culture subject matter—like zombies and meth-dealing science teachers—baseball is a sport, and one of the circuses I’ll still buy a ticket for and write about.
Longtime readers and old friends know that I played the game, coached it, and even ran a semi-pro college league for five summers—heck, I even wrote a book about baseball. What many don’t know is that I once was an umpire and given the nature of the free agent lifestyle, I’ve decided it’s time to get back behind the plate again.
I was a member of the Western Maine Baseball Umpires Association (WMBUA) from 1998 to 2001. After four years, I had worked my way up from 7th and 8th grade junior high games to getting some varsity high school action. Then, Mark graduated from high school and I wanted to see him play college baseball at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, a three-hour drive I got used to making two or three times each week; when he came home in the summer, I started coaching a team in the Twilight League and it wasn’t long before I was running a team, running the league, and even writing a column on the league for the local weekly newspaper. Umpiring got pushed aside.
For six weeks during February and early March, I traveled to Gorham Middle School every Sunday morning for the WMBUA rules class. This was designed for new and returning umpires to help us prepare for and pass the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) rules exam administered on March 16. I had to buckle down and spend time each week reading through the rule book and even then, I was nervous about passing. I’m happy to report that I passed and in a few weeks, I’ll be umpiring my first game in nearly 15 years.
If you’ve never umpired, it’s much more difficult than you think. In fact, most fans of baseball think it’s so easy that they constantly harp on the men in blue (I say “men” because there are no women umpiring at the big league level, a few in the minors, and none on our board).
I’m looking forward to doing games this spring and throughout the summer. I’m sure I’ll have some stories to tell and things to report out on from time to time.