To The Fence Umpires At The Local Little League; Be Quiet & Watch
Let's talk to the adults for a minute
Umpiring baseball can be a great way to stay involved in the game well after your playing days are done. I know this to be true as I have now umpired for 13 years at all levels from little league up through the varsity season. I have found umpiring to be enjoyable and I continue to do it because I see a need for umpires and if we aren't there to call the balls and strikes, then the kids won't have a game to play.
A brief background
During the school year when teams play for their schools, they are all held to certain rules and standards written by the National Federation of High School Sports (NFHS). There are consequences for coaches, players, and fans written to limit the explosive moments that can lead to ejections and suspensions. For example, a player ejected in one game will have to sit out the next game played by their team. Sometimes the school will lay down additional punishment depending on the administration and precedent. I say all of this because when it comes to little league and other summer baseball leagues, there are not as many rules around personal conduct which can lead to much more unruliness. Over the weekend I was made aware of a situation at a local little league that puts me in a bit of a mood.
Nobody asked for your input
Like many other people who umpire or officiate other sports, I got my start at a young age at the local recreation department. I worked for a guy who happens to be a well-respected umpire and he got me into joining the local board when I was in college. If I had not had that experience when I was in high school, I might not have ever become a certified umpire. We need young people taking chances and gaining experience umpiring on the field. We don't need a couple of parents who feel it is fine to hold a volunteer teenage umpire to the same standard as a major league umpire. Go watch your children play and cheer them on. That's it. Leave the umpire alone. Leave that kid alone. Encourage them or thank them for taking the time to do this so your child can play a game they enjoy.
One last word to everyone involved
The responses to the post were nice to see many people offering to help out moving forward and to support the junior umpires. To the umpire(s) who were berated off of the field last week, I hope you come back. I hope that you go back on that field and do your thing again. The best way to keep them quiet is to keep coming back and doing what you know is right. To the fence umpires, try that in a few years when your children are at the varsity level, and you'll have to hear about the game from everyone else. You won't be there. You can be removed from the facility if an umpire/official asks you to do so.
Go get em' kids
Let's hope this doesn't ruin the rest of the season for all of the children wanting to play the best game ever invented. Summer is meant for baseball, and baseball is meant for summer. Play ball.