The baseball association the kids play in offers an opportunity for the players to be the umpire for the younger kids games. It’s a great way for them to give back to the organization and make a little money along the way. The kids have to be at least 13 to be involved in the program. Max started last year and has worked 6 games to date.
Kids Giving Back – Mitch’s umping his first game last night
Mitch was scheduled to work three other games throughout the season. Due to our rainy weather this summer, he had rescheduled games for his team and his required attendance at a choir concert for school (his grade depended on it), that kept him from being able to do it. Because Max ended up having a practice for his state tournament come up, he was unable to work one of his scheduled games, so last night became Mitch’s first experience. Finally, he was able to get one in.
He was pretty anxious before the game. We had to drop Max off, but Mitch just wanted to get to his field across town and didn’t want to be late. The teams playing in this game were in the minor league division, 4th and 5th graders, light blue and red. We happened to know two of the kids on the light blue team, one is the younger brother of one of the players on Max’s team and the other one is the son of a friend of Sam’s. I wonder if knowing a couple of the players made Mitch feel more comfortable or more nervous. I will have to ask him.
I noticed that his confidence kept building while we watched the game. He was calling out the balls and strikes louder and standing more solid behind the catcher. Between innings, one of the players asked him how old he was. He said “I am 13.” The player looked up at him and said “wow” like it was a really neat thing. The end result of the game was that the light blue team won to go undefeated for the season and Mitch completed his first game as an umpire. When I asked him how things went and how would he feel about doing it again, he said that it was good and he had fun. And he would love to do it again.
There are many lessons learned by the kids who take this challenge on, and the coaches understand they are learning them on the job. Most of them center around how hard the umpire’s job is. Actually having the opportunity to do it gives them more appreciation for what the umpire goes through in a game. Max said that he had a better appreciation of the umpire’s job after his first time doing it, and tries not to be too hard on them because of it.They also learn more about the game, seeing it from behind home plate. Mitch commented on one of the kids playing center field was messing around with his hat and not paying attention to the game. When the player looked up, a ball was coming at him and sailed right over his head and he had to leave his hat on the ground to chase the ball down. Mitch had to bring himself back to the fact that there are a lot of other things happening on the field that he also has to keep track of as the umpire.
What a great experience it was for Sam and I to be there to support him through a first time event in his life. Having the anxiety before the game, and being there to watch him work himself into the game and become comfortable to do the job at hand. The fact that the players (younger kids) look up to him as a role model, added to building his confidence. He did a great job last night, and I am glad it was such a good experience for him.