Calling the shots
by Lianne Castelino
So my littlest guy had a huge moment in the sun (literally and figuratively!) last night! He's 11 and was most thrilled when I told him a few months ago that the new baseball league he and his brother would be playing in this year also trained umpires to work league games. Both he and his brother would be eligible to learn to umpire, if they so desired. What's more, they would both be paid for their efforts.
This past Sunday they went to their first clinic. An hour and half of explanation. They both came home with their heads swimming but excited about their new challenge, the new gadgets they would have to use and their umpire uniforms.
Then shortly after the clinic ended, we got a call asking if our youngest son was available to umpire a game, the very next day (last night).
When we told him, he was naturally nervous, but excited about the prospect. So we agreed.
Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day. So he put on his umpire uniform, complete with the 'belt' for all the tools umps need during the game (brush to sweep off home plate, scoring gadget to keep track of balls and strikes, pen and paper, among other things).
He put on his belt well before dinner, strutted around the house with it, all the while nervous about what the evening would bring.
He even took the 10 page handout they distributed during the ump clinic and synthesized it into 1 small page of bullet point notes.
In the car on the way over they he mentioned his nerves then proceeded to practice his loud ump voice. I didn't give him any advice except to say --- make sure you speak loudly --- nothing worse than a whispering ump.
He got out there, a shy little grin on his face, and handled it like a veteran official in Major League Baseball!! I could not believe it. I was quite nervous too. There's a lot going on out there on that field with little batters, runners, parent coaches, distractions all over the place. But once the game started, he was in his comfort, and perhaps his strike zone!!
It was a parenting, eyes-welling-up-with-tears moment.
He spent the first two innings as the outfield umpire, then the next two behind homeplate. He called those balls and strikes with tons of poise, confidence and an incredibly loud voice!! His first time behind homeplate ended up being a 6-run inning --- he was not phased in the least.
Even when opposing coaches questioned him and the other ump on calls, he chugged forward.
It was a wonderful thing to witness --- giving a child a challenge and watching them rise to the occasion. So, so proud of him.
His 13-year-old brother was shocked when we recounted the story...but very proud...you could just feel it!!
After the game, he went to collect his 'pay' and was so elated. He had that look of absolute joy on his face! So we asked him, aren't you going to treat yourself at the snack bar for doing so well in your first game? His response, "hmm actually I'm going to save my money." What? Two large helpings of responsibility in one 2-hour period? Whose kid was this? As he slurped on the freezie bought with money he scammed from me, I could not have been more proud!!!
Can't wait for his older brother's umpiring debut!!