My husband has been a baseball and fast pitch softball umpire for about 10 years. Some umpire wives go to games to see their husband’s ump. Me, I rarely attend. It’s not that I am not interested in his hobbies. I am. I just don’t want to be ejected again. Yes, in one of his rare ejections, my husband tossed me from the field of play. I will admit that he had no choice. I have a problem when people pick on him, my daughter or my dogs.
At this game, which in our house is known as the “the night we almost got divorced” game, my husband was the home plate ump for a 14-and-under softball game which decided which team won a bid to go to Nationals. At this game, where he ejected me (in case you didn’t read that part), I stopped by the field to bring him an extra drink. I stood near the bleachers that were next to the first base line. There were already two outs in the inning, and I felt some tension from the crowd sitting in those bleachers. After the batter took the first pitch, the ump let out a loud “Strike”. Then I heard a father in the bleachers scream,
“Are you blind? Are you an idiot? That was clearly a ball.”
I now recognized the source of the tension. Yes, this game had an irate parent. It’s sad but it’s a fact of organized sports that each team has one of those parents who cannot keep his or her mouth shut. These parents feel it is their right to try and sway, through intimidation, the way an umpire calls a game. My daughter played travel ball and varsity softball throughout high school. On each team, we had our share of parents who thought their kids were the next Babe Ruth. Okay, in our case, they were the next Babe Ruth with breasts. They believed their kids were the best, and this perception gave them the right to insult coaches, parents and umpires.
Back to this game – you know the one where my husband ejected me – Did I mention that already? I knew I should have left when I realized that there was a troublemaker parent in the vicinity, but like a good train wreck, I had to stick around and watch. The irate dad was standing on the bleachers, and he was clearly agitated. He was upset at everything from the balls and strikes calls to how the third base coach was telling his base runners to lead. He complained loudly, and he was so sure that the rest of the parents agreed with him. The other parents did not say anything to the irate dad. They chose to ignore him. After the second pitch, my husband called another strike. The irate parent ridiculed the ump again. My husband still ignored him. He is very cool behind the plate, but I could see his patience was wearing thin. Finally, the batter swung and missed the last pitch which ended the inning.
Well, it ended the inning for everyone but the father of the kid who struck out. He continued to scream. Even the other parents started to shift away from him. My husband watched for a second, and told the coach that if the dad did not calm down, he would be ejecting him. The coach kept apologizing for the father’s actions, and then he told the dad to sit down and be quiet. Do you believe the parent did not listen to the coach? Instead, he started to curse – at my husband.
That’s when I sort of got involved. I told him that he was an embarrassment and that this game was supposed to teach kids about sportsmanship and responsibility and teamwork. Now, the coach and the other parents got involved. They were yelling at this dad, and I was yelling at this dad, and he was yelling at me, and then my husband came over and glared at me and the dad, and he ejected us both. At that moment, I was a bit ticked off at the ump, but I realized that I did not help the situation at all. However, I think the crowd was happy I came because I gave the ump a good excuse to get rid of the parent from hell.
When my husband got home that night, I still was a little miffed. I couldn’t let him think he could throw me out of places without paying a price for it. He apologized, but he said I left him no choice. “I probably would have ejected that guy in the next inning anyway,” he confessed. “I give parents a little time to think. It’s best for the kids if they don’t see their parents ejected, but sometimes I have to take that step.” I forgave him, and then the ump thought we were back to normal, so he tried to circle the bases at home with me. Silly, silly ump. It was my turn to eject him from the playing field.