Get High on Life

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 14, 1999

By Harold Keller / L’Observateur / April 14, 1999

As the Little League baseball season gets into full swing, I’m impressed to write about the most important people at any game – the umpires. Mymotivation to write this article came after attending a few games in the past weeks.

Allow me to share a story taken from Charles R. Swindoll’s devotionalbook, “The finishing Touch.””The funny thing about baseball is that the guys who have more reason than anyone else to get nervous and uneasy are on the field, but they’re not on a team. They’re the guys in uniform, affectionately referred to as “theumps,” or stuff much worse than that.

We’re awfully hard on the umpires, but I’m told that’s our right, since we paid to get in. I’ve never quite figured out that logic. Why would buying aticket give anyone the right to insult, curse, scream at, or ridicule a person who has the toughest job in baseball? Can you imagine how hopelessly impossible it would be to play the game without them? You’d think they were the bad guys if you didn’t know better.

Little League is supposed to be a pleasant setting where boys have the opportunity to learn more about the game of life than the game of baseball. That was driven home to me recently when I read the words ofDonald Jensen, who was struck in the head by a thrown bat while umpiring a Little League game in Terre Haute, Ind. He continued to work the game,but later that evening was placed in the hospital by a physician. Whilebeing kept overnight for observation, Jensen wrote an eloquent letter to folks whose shenanigans make you cringe or bow your head in shame. Atone point, he says: “The purpose of Little League is to teach baseball skills to young men.

Obviously, a team which does not play well in a given game, yet is given the opportunity to blame that loss on an umpire for one call or two, is being given the chance to take all responsibility for the loss from their shoulders. A parent or adult leader who permits the younger player toblame his failures on an umpire…is doing the worst kind of injustice tothat youngster…This irresponsibility is bound to carry over to futureyears.”What Donald Jensen wrote that night in Indiana was absolutely right. Nexttime you’re tempted to insult or mistreat an umpire, remember him – the late Donald Jensen. The following morning, he died of a brain concussion.Remember, how we (the spectators and players) act, reveals how we live.

Harold Keller is a regular columnist for L’Observateur

Copyright © 1998, Wick Communications, Inc.

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