I headed for Calgary shortly before 7am on Saturday to umpire for the weekend. It was a non-eventful trip, the sort of trip that you expect. Eventful might typically means something goes wrong, we don’t want that.
I was umpiring with a new partner. We started on time, weather conditions were warm, but there was a nice breeze. It was a pretty decent game. I took a hit off of the facemask, something that doesn’t happen all too often.
The game ended in the bottom of the sixth inning on an ejection of a player from the home team, who were behind in the game.
The player apparently didn’t like my strike two call, which he looked at. On the called third strike, which, by the way was belt high and right down the middle, he complained to me about the strike 2 call. He chirped, I allow that, get it out, I am tough, I can take it.
He continued for a moment, I asked him to return to his dugout, which he did, chirping on the way. Then, for whatever reason, he swore at me, so I had no choice but to toss him. I don’t eject players too often, in fact, he’s only the 2nd or 3rd player ejection that I have ever made.
Well, the team did not have any subs for this player, so the game ended. Didn’t really matter, he was the second out, the time limit had expired and the home team was down by 6 runs or so. After I called the game, I heard a few more chirps from parents, telling me I need to know the rules – sure, parents, you’re the experts.
I returned to my truck to sit in the AC, we had 30 minutes until the next game. I had to do back-to-back plates as my partner wasn’t ready to do a plate at this level. As it turns out, maybe I wasn’t either.
In the bottom of the first inning, I took another shot off the face mask. I will admit that I have not umpired in the last 3 years and I am out of practice. As the pitch was fouled, I slightly turned my head, which is human nature and I took the ball off of the side of my mask which then slammed into my shoulder. Thankfully, I wear a catcher style one piece helmet, otherwise I would be dealing with a broken jaw, I am sure.
It hurt. I ripped the mask off and swore, something I normally don’t do when I am umpiring (the swearing, I mean). I took a few minutes to collect myself, apologized to the fans for swearing and returned to my position behind the plate.
A few pitches later, I started to feel woozy. On the 1-2 count, I was unable to show the count on my fingers, I knew something was up. When another ball was thrown, making the count 2-2, I felt sick to my stomach and called time. I stepped away from the plate and took a knee.
My partner ran in from the field, as well as some of the coaches to ensure I was ok, I wasn’t. I was escorted off of the field to sit in the shade of the dugout. I was given a wet towel to put on my neck and an icepack for my head and face. Someone, for some reason (overly cautious, I am sure) called an ambulance.
Over the next hour, while we waited for the ambulance, I started to feel better. The President of Babe Ruth was called, he made the decision in this case to suspend the game as there was only one umpire and the game had already been delayed for an hour. It turns out that the ambulance came from south of High River, so it took them that long to get to the diamond, they are stationed out of Vulcan, Alberta. Unbelievable that they had to come from so far, looks like our health system needs some updates somewhere.
They looked me over, I was answering questions, my heart rate and blood pressure were fine, eyes were fine, they asked if I wanted to go to a hospital – I declined. One, I felt OK at this point and two, if I had gone to the hospital, I would have been there for hours and hours, they were going to take me to Airdrie, north of Calgary, getting back to my truck would have been a pain in the ass. The paramedics were great, asked me a bunch of questions and ensured I was good.
The team from Olds that helped me out had left by the time I was done in the ambulance. I wanted to thank the parents who helped out, it was much appreciated. I felt bad that the kids didn’t get their game in. I come from 250km away to umpire, I am not doing this for the money, I lose money every time I umpire, I do it because I love baseball, love umpiring and like working with the players and coaches – baseball has been part of my life since my late teens, that doesn’t go away.
I spoke with the President of the League and the Supervisor of Umpires, it was decided, sort of for me, that I would not umpire on Sunday. They could cover off my games easy enough.
The motel I stayed at in Calgary was awesome. I booked a place that didn’t look like much from the outside, a typical 2-level motel. The room was excellent, almost luxurious. The bed was one of the most comfortable I have ever had in a motel room and the bathroom was spa-like. Unbelievable water pressure in the shower, blew me away. I went for dinner to Denny’s, was totally full ($50 later as well). I went to bed very early, just after 7pm. The AC in the room was great, slept very comfortably, until just after 1230. I typically sleep about 5 hours, well, that was more than 5 hours.
I spent some time watching TV and chatting with a friend online. Around 230am, I went out to 7/11 for a Big Gulp. I had a shower and planned on leaving around 5am for home, I ended up leaving right around 4 and made great time home.
Yesterday was a relaxing day for the most part. I picked up the dogs at 10am from boarding and stayed in most of the day, it was too hot to do much outside. We are in the middle of a heat wave, rare for the mountains.
Other than my jaw since being a bit sore, I am back to normal. I head back for another double-header this coming weekend. I will endeavor to NOT turn my head, it’s a habit I need to get back into.
Play Ball !!!