I was all fired up as I sat in the third-base bleachers behind our dugout. I didn’t think the opposing manager was playing fair. My son’s manager would give signs to the catcher, who would then relay what pitch to throw. The opposing manager would then yell a comment to the hitter. When our manager called a fastball, the other manager would yell “quick bat.” When a change-up was called, he’d yell “keep your weight back.” I watched it all game, and complained to a few other parents. They didn’t seem to believe me or care. One father pointed out that manager was yelling other things like “nothing high,” “protect the plate,” “wait for your pitch.” It didn’t matter. I was convinced he was stealing signs.
In the fourth inning, their pitcher hit two straight batters. My son was up next. A fastball nicked his elbow. The opposing manager called time, and walked to the mound. When he didn’t make a pitching change, I yelled, “He has to come out! That’s the rule!” My wife told me to be quiet. “That’s the rule!” I yelled again. The manager looked over at me before he went in the dugout. Our manager was coaching third base. He turned around, and said, “John, it’s not a rule. Relax.”
You’re embarrassing yourself and everyone around you, including your son.
The bottom half of the fourth inning, their first hitter walked and stole second base on the next pitch. “He left early!” I yelled. The field was quiet. I yelled it again. The umpire motioned to me, and said, “Sir, enough.” My wife went to sit with another family. I turned to a friend, and said, “That manager teaches them to leave early. I’ve seen it at their practices.” My friend ignored me.
At the top of the fifth inning, when I saw the same pitcher step on the mound, I had had enough. As the opposing manager got to the third base coach’s box, I said, “I don’t care if it’s a rule or not, that kid should NOT be pitching!” He turned, and said, “Coaches coach. Parents parent.” I lost it. I stood, and yelled, “You cheat! You know you cheat! You steal signs! You send runners early! You probably bat out of order, too!”
Just as my son, who was playing left field, said, “Dad, stop!”, our manager stepped out of the dugout, and came over to me. “John, your way out of line. You’re embarrassing yourself and everyone around you, including your son. I’m going to ask that you leave.” I just stood there. “Please, John, leave.” I pointed to the opposing manager, and as I walked away, I said, “You cheat!”
I watched the rest of the game from the car. When it was over, my son and wife walked to the parking lot. They got in a friend’s car, and left. We had planned to go out for pizza after the game.
People who normally would say hello walked by my car without even looking at me. That was not the case with our manager. He came right over, and told me that my son was crying in the dugout, and that I was too disruptive. He reminded me that this was not my first outburst, and told me that even if all the things I accused the other manager were true, which he believed none of them were, the kids are only 10 years old! Then he said something that stuck with me . . . “I don’t teach extreme competitiveness to the kids. I teach having fun. That is what is important. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t even keep score.”
That’s when I replayed my son’s words from left field . . . Dad, Stop! I realized then that he wasn’t having fun, at least not in that game, and it was all my fault.
That night, after I ate cold pizza alone, I told my family I was sorry, called the other manager to apologize, and vowed to change my ways.