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RELIGION: Little League Baseball

by By Gene Linzey Reflections on Life | May 4, 2022 at 5:22 a.m.

When Ron was 12, he wanted to play baseball. I didn't know why because my favorite sport was football.

But Ron wanted to play baseball. We bought him the outfit and Ron was happy. He understood that I couldn't attend every game, but he beamed from ear-to-ear whenever I could show up.

On one occasion, the head umpire -- who was Ron's opposing team's coach in that game -- needed a second-base umpire and asked any dad in the stands to volunteer. I was the only dad in bleachers, so I went to the ump to explain an embarrassing fact. "I don't know much about baseball, so I don't think I can help."

"I understand, Mr. Linzey. But all you need to do is stand by second base, out of the way of the players, and just declare whether the runner is safe or not. It's really simple."

By the fifth or sixth inning the score was 4-1 with Ron's team earning the 1. Ron's team was in the field, the other team had two outs, no one on base, a good hitter was up to bat, and the count was two strikes and two balls.

WHAP! A good hit!

The batter rounded first. The shortstop grabbed the ball. The runner was heading to second base ... right where I was! I placed myself in a position to see the action.

The shortstop threw the ball to second base. The runner was sliding with dust raising in his cringing face. The second baseman caught the ball, stepped on the plate a second before the runner reached it and I triumphantly hollered the famous cry: "YOU'RE OUT!"

"BOO! BOO!"

I held up my hands and called Time Out, and asked for a consultation with the head umpire -- the coach of the player I had just said was OUT. The coach ran out to meet me.

"Coach, you know the game and you know the rules. Was the boy safe or out?"

"You are the second base umpire. I never disagree with my umps. If you say he's out, that boy is out. I'll back you up and this case is closed."

"But I'm not happy with that. Jesus is the Author of truth, and my life is based on truth. Even in sports. I have to know: is the boy safe or is he out."

"What did you see?"

"Ball was pitched. The batter got a solid hit. He hit first and was almost to second, but the shortstop got the ball to the second baseman in time, and he stepped on the plate."

"If the runner was quick enough, could he have run back to first?"

"Yes, I suppose so. No one was there."

"You are correct. If there's a runner on first, all the second baseman has to do is step on the second base plate. That's because there's no option to run back. But in this situation, because the runner had that option, the second baseman was supposed to tag the runner, not the base. Even if the runner headed back to first and the second baseman threw the ball to first, the first baseman would still have to tag the runner, not the base. BUT ... you called him out, and that runner is out."

"I'm changing my call."

"You don't have to. Umps rarely do that. Your call is law."

"Thank you, sir." I turned to the runner, and hollered, "SAFE!"

"You sure?"

"Yes, sir, I'm sure."

The score ended somewhere around 8-3 and everyone was packing up when the coach came over to me. "Mr. Linzey, I've never had an ump do what you did. That's one of the reasons people get angry at these games. You're an honorable man. Thank you."

"Thank you, coach. And thank you for teaching me about the game."

We took Ron to Braum's to celebrate him scoring a run and my first time being an umpire. But Ron had something to say.

"Dad, I know you can't come to many games, so I'm really happy that you made it this time. Umps make bad calls, and they never change them. At least, you're the first I've seen do it, and my respect for you went up 10 points. Your call didn't lose the game for us. WE lost the game, but you are the best ump we've ever had."

If my memory is correct, I bought Ron two milkshakes that day.

-- S. Eugene Linzey is an author, mentor, and speaker. Send comments and questions to [email protected] Visit his web site at www.genelinzey.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Print Headline: Little League Baseball

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