Today is our first day off and it couldn’t come fast enough for these old and tired bones. I’m not sure what I’m going to do today, but I’m sure it will involve football and much needed rest. Since we don’t have a car, we can’t really explore Vero Beach. Last night Bill and I jumped into John Dowdy’s car and went out to dinner. John actually drove out from California and rented an apartment on the beach. He is making quite a little vacation out of this trip. I guess its good to be retired. Anyway, we went to a barbeque place called Sonny’s. The food was good and the beer was cold, what more could you ask for? I’m sure many of the youngsters went out and savored the Vero Beach night life. I think I fell asleep at around 9:30. I laughed when I thought how its hard to keep up with the youth here on and off the field. It also reminded me how this school has made me realize I’m not as young as I used to be. While I’m still active, I play softball once a week and my job and hobbies are fairly physical, the realization that youth is lost on me has been bittersweet. Don’t get me wrong, I am holding my own and doing pretty well, I just don’t have that explosive agility and quickness any more. Thank God for smarts, wisdom, and experience! I need to rely on instincts and reaction. And although I am still in good health, and in my head I believe I can still do all those things I used to be able to do, there comes a time when you realize you’re just getting a little older. Not that that is a bad thing, we should all be as to so fortunate to live long and experience the many amazing stages of life. I am blessed with a wonderful wife and children, great friends and family, and the ability to take part in things such as pro umpire school.
I also wanted to touch upon the diversity among the students here at TUS. It’s incredible to think that the school attracts people from not only all over the US, but from different parts of the world. We have students from Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Japan, and Australia. California sent the most students with 18 (6 from my hometown San Diego), Florida is second with 9, and with the rest hailing from nearly every other state in the union. The class has good camaraderie, part because we share a common interest, but largely due to the message of unity the instructors preach. Even though I talked about this in previous posts, I think this is one of the most important messages they can convey. One that is important not only here, but in life as well. Not everyone, in fact the majority, will not be offered jobs in pro baseball. But the lessons learned can have a lasting impact on every student here. While everybody here has their own distinct personality, it is the Japanese students that are by far the most colorful and well liked. There are 4 student here from Japan, and to say they are our favorites would be an understatement. They don’t speak much English, but their work ethic is a testament to the Japanese culture. One speaks more English than the others and he serves as the translator, especially out on the field when the demos and instructions are in English. In class, they copy the words on the board and usually enter it into their translator program on their phones or computers. Can you imagine doing that? It would be like copying hieroglyphics and having someone translate it. Incredible. But the one thing that I like the most is how one of them puts the ball in play. It’s hard to describe, but its like a Samurai inflection in his tone. I can tell you it is awesome, and if I could do it, I would use it in all my games. During yesterdays field drills, we had to vocalize interference and base awards. We all got a kick out of how a couple of the Japanese students seemed to blend broken English and Japanese when awarding bases. We really enjoy them and it’s great to be here with them and all the other students. Only at Ump School!