Yesterday, our family celebrated 3 birthdays, including mine, by going to a brew pub and having a catered buffet dinner. We have a large extended family.
All 3 of my adult boys stood up and told stories about their Dad. It got me thinking about how many rich experiences I have had in my life. Maybe I will write some of them down. Some stories come with redemption. Some are just lessoned learned. I'll start here.
I was head coach/manager of my 11 year old son's travel baseball team. We were playing in tournmanet in a nearby town, with a population of 40,000. Our town has less than 5,000 people. I would tell our team the same story every year. For every one of you there are 8 in the nearby town that are just as talented if not better. To win we have to worker hard and play fundamental baseball. Then, me and two coaches drilled the shit out of them 6 days a week leading up to the tournament. Their defense was outstanding. Our hitting was lacking.
We played the host town at the host town's field. By luck of the draw, we were the home team.
As we finished up our warmup practice, the umpire told us to wrap it up. The game was starting. Our starting defense was already on the field.
Our 1st base coach cut across the diamond and was headed to the 3rd base dugout when the game ball was rolled out onto the field. Our coach picked up the ball and handed it our starting pitching, his son.
The umpire yelled, "That is an official visit to the mound, you have one remaining this inning."
The umpire was so to speak, known to us. I spoke to the umpire and said, "You aren't your starting your shit already, are you?" After a few minutes of a quiet, heated exchange the umpire rescinded mound visit count.
By about the top of the 4th inning (7inning game) we were getting beat up pretty good, down 7-0. This was no surprise as our opponents could hit the crap out of the ball.
I decided to pull our starting pitcher. I replaced hiim with our unorthodox left fielder. The kid was an incredible athlete who our starred in local hockey. When his head was right, and that wasn't very often, he was the best player on the team.
His head right this night. He came out throwing smoke. He struck out the 2-4 hitters on opposing team to end the top of the 4th inning. Our bats were quiet again and we headed into the top of the 5th inning still down 7-0
After the second pitch from our "Wild Thing", the umpire called time. He waves off strike two and said, "No pitch. It was a Quick Pitch the batter wasn't ready". Then the umpire did it again on the next pitch.
I left the dugout to speak with the umpire. I explained to him that the batter was standing the batter's box each time our pitcher went into his delivery. We argued for a minute or so.
And then the umpire came out with a Whopper! "When the batter is holding up his hand, closest to the mound, the pitcher is not allowed to pitch the ball. The pitcher has to wait until the batter puts down his hand and then he may pitch".
I pulled the rule book out of my back pocket and asked him to show me where that rule was.
He told me that if I continued to argue balls and strikes I would be tossed from the game."
I wasn't arguing balls and strikes
I paused and looked right at the Umpire and asked "How many rules are you going to make up tonight?"
The umpire tossed me from the game. Our kids went crazy, laughing. I was embarassed.
I had to spend the rest of the game in the parking lot.
Our team started to play with incredibly energy. They rallied, but we still lost 7-6. That was closest we ever came to beating this team.
Now, 12 years later, my son said it was both embarassing and hilarious. My son bumped into Wild Thing around town last year and the kid said, "Your Dad was the funniest coach I ever had!"
After I returned home from the game, I wrote an email to the commissioner of the tournament.