Umpires have the hardest job

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring has sprung, baseball has begun, the clocks have been advanced, the days are longer, and baseball, the great American pastime, is in full swing. The major league season is about to open,

college and high school baseball

is well underway, and the Little League season is only a few weeks away.

It’s a time that people who play the game and fans that enjoy the game go out to the ballpark, hoping to relax and maybe have fun. Funny thing about baseball, though, 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 the umpires.

It never ceases to amaze me that just because fans pay the price of admission, they think that have the right to insult, scream and at times, curse the “umps,” who have the toughest job in the game. It’s a time for people to get together, enjoy the game, eat a hot dog and have fun. Today, enjoying a game is almost impossible.

I’m reminded of Donald Jensen, an umpire years ago who was struck on the head by a thrown bat while umpiring a Little League baseball game. That night in the hospital he wrote the following:

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 to blame his failures on an umpire… is doing the worst kind of injustice to that youngster….  This irresponsibility is bound to carry over to future years.    

What Donald Jensen wrote that night in Indiana was absolutely right. Next time you’re tempted to insult or mistreat an umpire, remember him – the late Donald Jensen. The following morning he died of a brain concussion.

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