After a long day yesterday,many of the students, including Bill and I, were a little sore. Todays classroom session began with a speech from Jim Evans. He mostly talked about doing your best, working hard, and even if you don’t make it to PBUC, you haven’t failed. You will walk away being a better umpire and probably a better person. He then told a moving story about a young man that changed his life years ago in 1982, or so. I’m sure he has told this story before, and some of you that have attended his school or camps may have heard it already. I won’t tell the whole story because I just can’t do it justice. He told us about a 15 year old boy that he met in at Tiger Stadium. Travis was a Make-A-Wish kid stricken with brain cancer and only 4 months to live. Travis’ wish was to watch a game in the press box with the Tigers announcer, whose name escape me. Before the game, Travis was touring the stadium, when by happenstance, he met Jim. At that time, Jim was quite the accomplished umpire, and by his own admission, was getting a little complacent with his work. He was introduced and after chatting for a bit, took Travis down to the umpire room, let him rub up some baseballs, gave him and old indicator and hat, and spent some time with him. Jim was very moved by meeting Travis and he admits it changed his life. Travis passed away 3 months later and Jim was determined to change his own life, no longer taking things for granted and worked hard a being not only a better umpire, but a better person as well. He encouraged all of us to find that Travis in our lives. Needless to say, it was very moving, but especially emotional for me, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t fighting back the tears. Apparently Jim is a big supporter of Make-A-Wish, but what he didn’t know was how close this hit home for me. Although I know he doesn’t like for anyone to talk about it, my oldest son is a Make-A-Wish kid, so they have a spot in my heart. Without going into detail, only because my son would scold me for telling about him, he is fine now, a senior in high school, and just accepted to 2 colleges to study pre-med. I certainly wasn’t expecting to hear a story like that with such a personal connection at umpire school, but life is sometimes very surprising.
Lest I digress. The rest of class was devoted to going over the beginning parts of the 2 man system, basic stuff, not too much to report. After the 2 man presentation, we had our first test. I think we will get them back tomorrow. I noticed how some of the students around me are really working hard at preparing for the tests. For me, I just take the tests and don’t have to study very hard or stress about them, so there is no real pressure. I’ve studied the mechanics and rules enough, and continue to do so, therefore I know the material fairly well. I’m also not looking for a job. There is a nice kid in my crew that is working really hard and I know he studied a lot and I can see his determination. I really hope he makes it, he is doing everything right. But it is probably stressful for some, being on basically a 4 week job interview. I wish the best for all those chasing the dream.
Field work today again with the basic 4 and go/stop/call it. We will open on the field with that everyday. After that, we worked on mechanics and positioning with nobody on, and more on the pivot. One point of emphasis I noticed that I hadn’t really been taught before was varying the angle of your pivot. Its basically three spots on the infield progressively closer to 2nd base. If a ball is hit to right field, you pivot to a spot closer to first. If the ball is hit to center or left, then you progressively move your pivot closer to second base. Some or many of you may already know what I am describing here and while I knew about it and probably had been doing it in some capacity in my games, I will be much more aware about how to use it. Also new and interesting was when getting angle/distance on a ground ball to the infield with nobody on, you move in a straight line directly to second base. Another good method that I am excited to implement in my games. Nothing much more happened and I’m just glad I’m not as sore and tired as yesterday. Now it’s time to Skye with the family, so I leave you until tomorrow. Thanks for following along.