The middle of the 2000’s was a weird time. I had lazily rolled my odometer over past 21 years. I wasn’t really a productive member of society. Summers were spent hanging out by the pool, drinking the day away, and playing MVP 2005 on X Box. I wasn’t exactly career driven, or driven by anything other than a desire to drink and carouse my way through life.
The nice thing about being young and slovenly was that I didn’t really need much money to get by. I worked odd jobs here and there. At one point, we were hired to put a small stream that led down into a tiny reflecting pond in a yard. I won’t bore you with all of the details, but I do seem to remember the yard flooding soon after due to our handiwork. There was also a stint at a gym, a self storage place, and a particularly spectacular flame out at Home Depot.
My favorite thing i’d do though, was umpiring little league baseball. It had some great things going for it. Specifically, during the week, you didn’t have to be anywhere until 5 pm. It was basically like working stripper hours, but somehow both less and more degrading at the same time. On the weekends, you could work three or four games per day. Pay was pretty good considering the work put in. If you were working a field that had lights, you could umpire a double header, lose maybe five hours out of your day, and make 70 bucks. It might not seem like much, but you got paid after every game, so it was cash and hand, and that came in handy at places like liquor store and bars, where currency allowed you to buy things. Like alcohol!
“Aren’t the coaches mostly just screaming assholes who think they know everything and yell and bitch you out constantly?”
Well, some are, but most were actually pretty cool. Little league baseball definitely had it’s share of bastards. I actually had a coach announce he was playing a game in protest because he didn’t understand baseline obstruction rules. Oh, and also it was 9 year olds playing. This was always the most amusing part. The older the kids got, the less we generally heard from coaches. The dickheads tended to weed themselves out and give up around Bronco league (11-12 year olds).
But tonight’s story isn’t about any coaches (there will be some in the future). No, it’s about the fans. Specifically, one terrifying woman who nearly beat me up in a parking lot.
While my memory isn’t 100 percent, anymore, I do remember the facts of what happened pretty well. It was a weeknight game at a place I really enjoyed umping at. The concession stand was always good and the people who ran the leagues were really good about taking care of the umpires, which was good, because half the fans were drunk at all times.
It was the 8:00 PM game so the fans who were there definitely had time to get loose beforehand. You always knew who the people who were drinking were on a given night, because they didn’t sit in the stands near home plate. They all brought their own chairs and sat down the first and third place line. They also all showed up an hour and a half before game time. Needless to say, by game time, a good portion of the crowd was half in the bag.
On this particular night, I was working behind the plate, which I didn’t mind because my knees still worked. Getting old sucks. I was working with someone I wasn’t used to working with, which was common, but usually sucked. I had the guys I enjoyed working with. Justin, Mark, Mike. A few others. I always knew that it was going to be a smooth game working with them because they were good at keeping fans in check before things got out of hand. But, when I was working with someone inexperienced, they tended to have a deer-in-the-headlights look whenever they got yelled at.
The play in question that set off the chain of events was actually pretty basic. The batter hit a ball to the shortstop, who bobbled the ball slightly, then threw it over to first. The play was close but the runner was pretty clearly out. The other umpire called the player out. No big deal. Game moves on. Well, except for the fact that the mother of the kid went apoplectic on the third base line.
She started immediately screaming obscenities at the other umpire, who immediately looked like he had just witnessed a murder. She was causing this kid to shrink onto the field to the point where I started to feel bad for him almost immediately. He made the right call! After 10 seconds, but felt like an eternity, I realized that this kid was not about to stand up for himself. So I stepped up and asked the woman to settle down.
“Oh fuck you, I’m allowed to be here.”
Welp, that was that. I threw her out of the game. I was allowed to do that! Kicking out fans meant that they had to go to the parking lot and could not return until the game had ended.
“Oh yea, whatever.”
It’s worth reminding at this point that this woman was half in the bag on airline bottles of god knows what. I knew I couldn’t let her stay at the game. She had berated this kid and told me to fuck off. So I stepped in front of home plate and stopped the game. I told her that the game would not continue until she went to the parking lot. She still thought I was bluffing, so I said that if she didn’t go to the parking lot, her son’s team would have to forfeit the game, at which point the coach screamed “for christ sake, go to the parking lot.”
As she walked towards the parking lot, she made it very clear to me that she would be waiting for me in the parking lot. Again, I didn’t make the call, and only stepped in because she was verbally slapping around the other umpire.
The game ends, I get paid, and head towards the parking lot, assuming i’m about to get the absolute bejezus kicked out of me.
I wouldn’t have to wait long for a response, as the woman is definitely walking straight at me. She starts screaming at me that i’m a coward and I can’t handle criticism and that, most importantly, i’m not a real man. Now, there have been arguments made that i’m all three of those things, but usually I catch those remarks for things i’ve done personally, not stepping in to stop some snot nosed teenager from getting ripped a new one by this sentient dive bar.
After around one minute of getting absolutely vocally pegged by this gal, she was finally lead away from me by the people running the fields. She was kindly asked to take a few games off from her kid’s games. I kept umpiring and lived to have more stories like this. I think everyone who ever spent time umpiring has stories like this. I’m gonna keep telling them, too. Check it out again next time for Brandon’s Little League Baseball Umpiring Tales!