My son’s team won their pool in District play, and moved on to face the winner of another pool. The team we were going up against was from a neighboring town, a team we knew well. Even though all the kids from both teams belonged to the same school district and were friends, when it came to Little League®, they were our main District rivals. The kids enjoyed playing against each other – the parents, not so much. We always got too intense, but, for the most part, we kept things in check. This one time, though, I took things too far.
My boy was on the mound, which always made me a bit more amped up. He was pitching well, but when the game moved to the fourth inning, he lost his control, and walked a couple batters. The score was tied with two outs. Their clean-up hitter came to the plate. My son had struck him out earlier in the game, but after his first pitch to him, I could tell he was aiming the ball, trying to avoid another walk. The kid fouled off two, and with the count 2-2, my son threw a pitch that from where I was standing at the fence, looked like a strike. The umpire called it a ball. “No way!” I screamed. “That’s a strike!” Everyone heard me, including the umpire. He just glared at me. Next pitch, the kid jacked a pitch over the center field wall. Their fans erupted, and so did I. “Should have been out of this inning!” I yelled at the umpire. “That was a strike! Get in the game!”
The umpire took off his mask, calmly walked over to me, and said, “Sir, not another word.” My son looked at me, and shook his head. One of the parents on our team asked me to come sit with him in the bleachers. I stayed at the fence off of first base. The manager pulled my son from the mound, swapping him with the shortstop. The glare the manager gave me when he was returning to the dugout told me he wanted to pull me, too.
The next pitch was waist-high and right down Broadway. That’s how I saw it anyway. Ball. “Unbelievable!” I yelled. “What are you looking at!” This time, the umpire didn’t walk over to me. Without taking off his mask, he pointed, and said, “Last warning.”
It was the bottom of the fifth inning. My son was on third. We were mounting a rally. There was a passed ball, and my soon broke for home. The ball bounced perfectly to the catcher. It was a sprint to home between my son and the pitcher. The catcher tossed the ball. Out. I lost it. “No!” I screamed. I kicked the fence, and yelled a few words not appropriate to write here. The umpire walked fast toward me, motioned toward the parking lot, and said, “Remove yourself. Now!” Over his shoulder, I saw my son dust himself off, walk toward the dugout, crying. I wasn’t sure if it was because he was thrown out or because of me. Probably both.
I was defiant. I stayed at the fence, fuming. “You are the worst umpire I’ve ever seen!”
There was a tug on my elbow. It was our league president. He said through his clenched jaw, “You are embarrassing yourself, your son, and our league.” He walked me to my car. Before getting in, he said he’d give my son a ride home, and win or lose, he felt it was a good idea for me to not attend any more games. “I can’t order you to stay away, but I think it’s best if you do.”
My son’s team rallied to not only win that game, but they won their District. I didn’t see any of it.
I apologized to my son, and our Board of Directors. I see the opposing team’s parents all the time. I know what they are thinking – the same thing my team’s parents are thinking. Later that fall, I saw the umpire, who was refereeing my son’s basketball game. I apologized to him, as well. He asked if I was going to give him any grief during the hoops game. I shook my head, and returned to my seat. I’m still embarrassed.