Out?

The stakes were high.  Trophies lined a 6-foot portable folding table outside of the third base line.  The pitch of the crowd suggested the score was close and the inning was late.  A kid–an 8 or a 9 year-old–on the grey team blooped a pop up toward second base.  The green team’s shortstop dove.  There was a cloud of dust and maybe a catch.  The base umpire thought so and signaled “out.”  The home plate umpire had a different angle; he signaled safe.  From my spot beyond the centerfield fence watching a game on an adjacent field, I sided with the home plate umpire.  There was no catch.  It was a great effort, but the shortstop clearly did not catch it.

The umpires met, and I hoped.  This is what I really hoped–that the umpire would go over to the kid shortstop and ask, “Hey, did you catch it?”  And I hoped that the kid would say, “No, I didn’t get it.”  And I hoped that the umpire would say, “Thanks for your honesty. I couldn’t tell from where I was standing.  That’s pretty impressive that you would be truthful even though it didn’t get your team an out.”  Then I hoped that the umpire would signal out and that everyone there–the players, the coaches, the fans–would understand.  That’s what I hoped.

Instead, the umpires talked.  They got the call right even without asking the kid.  And, from what I gathered, the play was not reviewed by the people in New York.  But despite the correct call, the kid’s coach was livid.  I watched in mute being out of earshot.  I saw the coach’s arms flail.  I saw him tear off his hat in frustration.  I saw his anger.  And worse yet, so did the kids.  All of this because the umpires got the call right, just not the way he had wanted.  And not the way I had hoped.

But I hope that when I’m in the situation that I can keep my perspective, my sense of fairness, and my honesty.  And I hope that you will too.

-Dan Schall

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