My Dad, the Ump

by Trisha Mason
Texas USA

My Dad, the Ump

When we were kids my dad sometimes announced our baseball games over the PA system. He called out the batters’ names, the count and the play in the field in his big friendly voice. In between innings he sang out an old baseball chant:

“Visit the concession stand, Get your Pea Corn, Pop Nuts, Chewing Water and Soda Gum!”

Dad always volunteered to umpire our games. He said he didn’t think he would be a good team coach because he would push us to win all the time instead of to enjoy the game. So he umpired.

One day in 1968 when he was umpping second base I was at bat. The pitch came fast and fell right into the sweet spot on my bat. The crack was wonderful to hear and I was off and running for first base. While racing for first I saw the centerfielder miss the catch, so when I touched first I made the curve and headed for second.

Then someone snagged my sleeve and said, “Get back on first!” It was my Dad. He had seen what I hadn’t; the centerfielder had the ball and was throwing it to second. I quickly backtracked to first base.

I don’t remember the rest of the game and probably wouldn’t remember that incident — except for what happened after the game. My Dad came up to me and apologized. He said what he’d done was wrong, that he had let his feelings as a father (wanting me to win) get the way of being fair while umpping a game.

He said it would never happen again because he was going to the scheduler and have himself taken off of umpiring any of his three children’s games. The rest of that season dad umpired for other teams, taking time he would have spent with us, because he had promised to ump a certain number of games.

He never seemed to care if we won or lost, but he always told us, with a glow of happiness, he only wanted us to enjoy playing and to play fair.

Near the end of my Dad’s life he suffered from Alzheimer’s and rarely knew who we were, but one spring day we took him out in the wheelchair to watch his grandson, my brother’s boy, play baseball. My brother announced the game and called out his son’s name when it was his turn to bat.

My father saw his grandson Aaron walk up to the plate and his eyes perked up, he smiled and said, “Go, Stan!” my brother’s name. Tears ran down my Mom’s face between innings, when my brother’s voice on the PA sang out:

“Visit the concession stand, Get your Pea Corn, Pop Nuts, Chewing Water and Soda Gum!”

My dad had faithfully coached us at home: how to throw, catch, bat and run the bases, how to win and lose with grace. He also taught me a lesson in integrity I will never forget.

Originally published as HeroicStories #702 on Mar 23, 2007

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