We were late getting to one game due to traffic and few misinformed schedule changes, but nevertheless we got there. We had just enough time to change, toss the ball for some infield, and watch one of the umpire crew come over to our dugout and say something about ground rules and let’s get our act together … etc…etc…etc.
I did remember at the time thinking how weak framed the plate umpire was, not much too him. As we shook hands it was shaking hands with melba toast – nothing. Beyond that we didn’t pay much attention to any of the crew because we had a bench clearing three weeks earlier with the other club and feelings were still a little sensitive to say the least. Glaring exchanges back and forth did nothing to listen or digest anything – it was like the umpire crew wasn’t even there.
Well, as luck would have it, the first pitch by my guy zinged by the batter’s leading ankle and nearly flip him off his feet. The other bench stood up on the first step, then our bench got up on the front step. A couple of their guys took one step onto the field portion of the dugout followed by the same move by our guys.
It didn’t take but a few seconds for words from the other dugout to trickle out within earshot of our backstop and he in turn ratted off a salvo to the batter …. Bingo… nearly everybody is now dancing in the dirt.
All I could think of at the time was “ I’m getting too old for this … and I just got a new pair of bullpen shoes and their killing me.”
Now bullpen duty doesn’t usually allow for anybody to charging anywhere … it’s just the way it is. But I saw our batting coach take a tumble, and he was up there in age and retiring that year … so out I went, pointing back to my guys …”stay there!”
When I got to the bunch where everybody had a hold on somebody, I saw my guy on his side having what seemed to be a very cordial conversation with the plate umpire. SHE had her helmet off, kneeling down next to our guy and very concerned about his landing. But what I couldn’t figure out how he had that awful tumble when nobody even touched him. Fact was, he was about twenty feet from the chaos all the time.
Our batting coach – the cleaver devil had left our motel the night before and wondered into a local convenience store, and met the lady and started a conversation. Now I know this is totally against any league rule … any league. But no league that I know of ever had to contend with this guy … he was a smoothie. And true to his reputation, when the lady plate umpire came over and asked him… “are you alright? His first and only response was… “What-ca do’n for dinner later.”
Darn… those were good times!