I continue my blog today with some adult things that happened to me. I have no order in which I will post them. Just random this and that about me.
Umpiring and Refereeing
I umpired and refereed for about 7 years after I quit coaching at Balyki. I got alot of games around Havana, PORTA, Green Valley, Manito and the Limestone area. I have a few stories I would like to share with you. Most of those games I partnered with Dave Brown who was teaching at Forman.
Warmup Between Innings
One of my earliest softball games was in Jnior High school and they were girls softball. I tried to be accomodating and talk to the player when needed for some instructions. One of the games was between Forman and Green Valley being played in Forest City. The game was awful. Forman was leading something like 25-0 and I tried to widen the strike zone to get the pitchers a chance to throw strilkes. After about 2.5 innings Green Valley put in their third string catcher. The pitcher had thrown her warm up tosses and with one more I instructed the catcher to “throw it down.” She caught the last warmup and just looked at me. I told her, “go ahead, throw it down. ” She did just that. She looked at the ground then tossed it at her foot to the ground. Their coach was Jim Oltman and I asked him to let her know what that meant.
Dave and I did many, many games together over the years and we talked about strategy several times. What that means is being in the right place at the right time. One day we got to find out. It was a varsity softball game in Havana. Sue Goodin was the coach and they were playing Canton. Dave was working the plate and I had the bases and Canton had one runner and thr]ird with two outs when they hit the ball deep into the outfield. It was my responsibility to go into the outfield to see if the ball was caught. This was from the time it left the bat no doubt ball in the gap. The runner from third scored and the batter was headed to third. Here is where we could and would find out if we would be in the correct spot. If the first throw goes to third base it was his job to be there to make the call and he was there. The ball caame to third and got by here and now the runner was steaming home and it was my responsibility to make a call home if needed. Sure enough it happened and I was there standing near home plate and the ball got there before the runner and she was out. I nonchalantly called her out. We had successfully completed the umpire’s wheel play!
Watching Inside Play
Again, Dave and I were discussing strategy of refereeing basketball. On the way to Norwood Junior High we were talking about attempting to get better at watching the play away from the ball. Dave Baird was the coach at Norwood and was always pleasant and had very little complaints and that made it a decent place to work. So the game is in the second period and I was down low under the basket watching the inside play as the ball was outside being passed round. I am intently watching the inside game when I see the ball out of the corner of my eye hit the floor just around the basket and one of the Norwood players takes his hand and knocks it out-of-bounds. I got this call! I blow the whistle, say the ball is off # whatever-it-was and award the ball back to the visiting team. Nothing, I mean nothing was said and play continued. At half we were discussing things that had happened and Dave asked me about the one call I made awarding the ball. I told him that the Norwood player had knocked it out and therefore gave it back to the opposition. Dave looked at me and said, “but the ball went through he basket first and the kid just swatted it out-of-bounds for the other team to take it out.” I was sooooo intent on watching the inside play I forgot to consider it had gone through the basket!
This basketball game was at PORTA High School. It wa a good distance from Manito to Petersburg but Dave and I got a varsity girls game to call. That was good, until the crowd fills in and I hear a very loud voice calling out, “Tommy, Tommy” and immediately knew it was Petersburg/Havana attorney and very distant relative to me John L. Knuppel. He lived in the PORTA district and was well known as a heckler in basketball game. I remeber seeing him ejected from the Mason County tourney once and it happened regularly. John at one point in his life was an Illinois State Senator and got in an argument with the Secretary of State. He got so mad he dumped his soup on him. The bottomline is if you were in an argument you would rather have him on your side than the opposition. Back to the game. He only called out my name twice during the game but it did get too me a bit and I was flustered. It was late in the game and not really close when the ball takes a quick change and I back pedal about three or four steps when I fall down on my back and lo and behold I hear this loud booming voice yell out, ” way to go, Tommy!” I decide to not work anymore games in Petersburg.
She Didn’t Impress Me Much
Back to softball and another game at Havana. Coach Sue Goodin was angling a bit with us as her team was facing the best pitcher in the area. They were playing Tremont and their pitcher was Margie Eckhoff. I had never seen her pitch but had certainly read about her abilities. I was doing the plate for this contest and before the game I would sneak a peek over to the Tremont side and watch the pitcher warm-up. What I was seeing was not impressing me. It appeared to be a soft lob ball. Sheesh. So the game started and it was the bottom of the first when she took the mound and Eckhoff took her warmup tosses. They were a bit harder than I saw earlier but nothing terrific. She took her last warmup and I called, “play ball” and what came next was a very fast pitch to the catcher which I thought was going to hit me. It was no issue for the catcher but I was taken back by the velocity. I think the pitch was down the middle and I called a strike. Wow, this was going to be something. She threw strike two equally hard and the batter had an 0-2 count. I was a bit flustered and the next pitch came to the plate and the batter attempted to bunt the ball but it went foul. I was so out of my game that I called it a foul ball when it should have been a strike out foul bunt attempt. Eckhoff came in a bit to get the softball back and said, “but she bunted the….. Oh well I will strike her out anyway.” Of course she did and did and did. She tossed a no-hitter but I had totally been un-prepared for what i witnessed in this game.