I WAKE UP early to run my two miles. I hate running, but it must be done, since I could probably gain 10 pounds in a month and no one likes a fat umpire.
I work full-time as the manager of a slide duplicating plant in Northwest Washington, but most of my evenings are occupied as an official at basketball, softball or soccer games. The plant closes at 4:30 p.m. each day, leaving me just enough time to change into my uniform and drive to the games.
The doubleheader I umpire this evening is in Laurel, a half-mile from the townhouse that my wife and I bought last December. I mow our tiny lawn during the 10 minutes I have between getting home and leaving to work the games.
The games are at Snowden Oaks, a field with a forest that begins in the outfield where the home-run fence should be. In the three other times that I've umpired here this season, no one has hit the ball into the trees, so I tell the outfielders to play everything. Four balls are pumped into the trees. Way to go, ump.
I run my two miles, drop my wife off at work in Riverdale, pick up an employe and arrive at the plant by 9 a.m. -- no small feat when I can't get my wife out of bed until 7:20.
At the plant, we complete a final check of two nutrition filmstrips I produced and finally get to fill the first batch of orders after six months of work. I did the writing and photography for both filmstrips and am gratified at the large number of orders for my first effort. These filmstrips were included in the company educational catalog that is mailed to high schools and colleges throughout the country.
I write a letter to the assistant basketball commissioner (our association covers D.C. and Montgomery County) with recommendations for next year's contracts with the county schools and the various area recreation departments. I worked 233 basketball games this past season (a friend of mine did almost 400) and one problem annoyed both of us. The scorekeeper in each gym would stop the clock for differing reasons, some having little to do with basketball rules, and we sought some consistency. The more times that the clock stops, the longer the referee has to endure verbal, and occasionally physical, abuse.
I arrive at the Riverdale Rec fields for my softball games at 6 p.m. and the clouds look ominus. Both teams agree to hustle to get the games completed. We finish in an hour and 45minutes, instead of the usual two hours.
With all of the rain we had this spring, I can't afford many more cancellations. I've already had seven doubleheaders rained out, which means that my wife gets to see me more often, but I don't get to work many softball games. During basketball season, she sees me so rarely I feel I should wear a name tag.
I am scheduled to work four kids' soccer games at Baker Junior High in Damascus, but rain is falling when I wake up. A call to the soccer commissioner confirms that the games are still on, so I begin the 35-mile trek to northern Montgomery County. Rain is falling in Burtonsville on Route 198; the rain is torrential in Ashton on New Hampshire Avenue extended; the roads are soaked in Damascus and, as expected, the field at the bottom of the hill at Baker is flooded.
Just as I'm ready to cancel the games and accept just a travel fee for the long ride, a coach notes that the goalposts can be moved. It takes 20 minutes to move the goals to a dry field on top of the hill, but we get the games going. The first three games are blowouts, and the humidity is oppressive, but I've been to the same field four times this season and I like watching the kids improve. I always work soccer up-country and the extra $4 a game for a four-game set more than compensates for extra gas.
In the final game, a parent disputes a call on a play that happens within five yards of where I am standing, so I dispatch him to the far end of the field, beyond sight and sound. This is the first parent I've had to eject this year, probably because I have only worked in Potomac once this season. The reputation of Potomac soccer parents is not unwarrented. Just ask a ref. Sunday
As a three-sport official, I always look forward to my only respite, the softball games that I play on Sunday and Wednesday with my team in the Baltimore area. I get spiked above the knee and my brother, the second of three umpires who play on this team, gets five spike cuts on his hand when diving for a base.
Our injuries swell badly and we are virtually useless on defense, but my double sparks a come-from-behind victory and the pain goes unnoticed. Still, I'm glad that spikes are being outlawed from a softball beginning next spring. They create a lot of unnecessary injuries and aggression that are not worth the little extra traction they give. Monday
I can't run this morning because my knee is swelled so badly from yesterday's spiking. I note with chagrin that a referee at the Diplomats' soccer game is attacked and has to issue three red cards (for enjections). The problem with most fans and players is that a referee will not disallow a goal or basket or home run without a damn good reason. It's just not healthy to take away a home team's goals within range of 50,000 fanatic supporters.
My softball games are scheduled in Kensington, and the last thing I need is two extra-inning games on my injured knee. I have to hustle all night, making three close calls at second base, two at third and three more at home, no small feat for an umpire on one knee. I am offered a beer (a better indication of a job well done than a bushel of "Thanks, ump"), but I don't drink. I've been told that I'll never advance to better leagues unless I learn to drink and start working on a pot belly. Tuesday
Since I couldn't run again and my knee is still a mess, I cherish the rainout that occurs when a big storm arrives at 4:30 p.m. and devastates everything.
I call the soccer commissioner to turn back my games for the next two Saturdays. Commissioners hate it when games are turned back because they have a tough time finding other referees to cover them, but I have had my fill of soccer until fall. He growls, "How am I supposed to get someone to go up there [to Damascus]?" but accepts the games reluctantly.
I then call the basketball commissioner and ask about my check for the past season. When you work more than 200 games and don't get paid until June, you get set back a little. Expecially when I got paid by the D.C. Rec Department by late April for their games, and I know they are hurting for money. Wednesday
My softball team arrives in Baltimore for our game, but we fear a forfeit when our 10th player has car trouble and can't get there in time. Just prior to 6:15, forfeit time, the other team gives us a player and we play the game.
Despite our lead of 9-2 in the last inning, they never protest and we win, preserving our undefeated record. My teammates look at each other in disbelief that such sportsmanship still exists.
Even more amazing is the umpire, who allows us to play even though he could legitimately have declared a forfeit, signed the scorebook and gone home. Tom, the third umpire on my team, and I decide that we would have already been home eating dinner. I'll have to remember what that umpire did the next time I'm ready to declare a forfeit.