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Calling the game as I see it
In my earlier years, I also put on the football referee's jersey and bounced up and down the basketball courts on the Olympic Peninsula during high school hoop season.
I remember many a junior varsity game at Sequim when I called the fouls and then sat behind the scorer keeping play by play and stats so I could write a first-person story for the almost daily newspaper.
But, alas, those days are in the past and now I just put on the umpire's gear and have fun on the big and small diamonds. Today, a plethora of officiating trivia, notes and a quiz for you to amaze your friends at your next trivia party.
Yes, I am turning 75 in July and might be one of the oldest officials in the Washington Officials Association, but old is good. Ron Phares is 66 years old and has been on the NFL fields for 24 years. Dick Bavetta, 69, still is calling shots in the NBA after 33 years and Ed Montague of Major League Baseball fame has been calling balls and strikes for 33 years and is 60 years old.
Here are a couple of umpire stats from MLB from 2008 as they relate to umpires, courtesy of Referee Magazine.
• 11,625 - Number of pitches called by James Hoye, the most called by any umpire.
• 83 - Number of umpires who worked at least once behind the plate. There were 66 active full-time MLB umps and 17 vacation/injury fill-in umpires who worked the plate.
Did you know that the Seattle Seahawks committed nary a foul in its Dec. 23, 2007, game against Baltimore? There have been only four games in NFL history in which neither team committed an infraction of the rules.
The high school football rule book will be changed for the 2009 season. Following other codes, a horse collar tackle will be added to the list of personal fouls that carry a 15-yard penalty.
What is a horse collar tackle? It is defined as grabbing inside the back collar of the shoulder pads or jersey and subsequently pulling down the runner. The runner does not have to go down to the ground immediately. Watch for controversy on this new rule.
When you see a high school umpire on the field, realize that he or she has spent a lot of time and money to help the prepsters on the field.
Each year, the umpire must study up-to-date rule books, pass a state-mandated clinic and rules tests and update equipment. A high-quality mask to protect the face goes from $70 up to $200 and plate shoes, which protect the feet with steel toes, go from $80 on up. Shoes to umpire the bases cost at least $60 on the low end.
Add to that cost of chest and shin protectors, base and plate trousers and two colors of umpire jerseys and jackets and getting to the business of calling balls and strikes gets quite expensive.
Quiz - baseball
1. With runner No. 2 on second and runner No. 3 on third and two outs in the inning, the batter has a one-ball, two-strike count, then swings at the next pitch and misses the ball, which is high and inside - and the ball hits the batter as he swings. The catcher is unable to field the ball cleanly. Batter starts to run to first base and catcher finds the ball and throws to first and the ball sails over the first baseman's head into right field and both runners score.
The batter-runner ends up at second. What's the ruling?
Quiz - softball
2. A runner is on first base with one out. Batter hits a line drive that is caught by the leaping third baseman. The coach of the team at bat immediately (before the next pitch) informs the umpire the third baseman is using a first baseman's mitt. What is the ruling?
1. Once the pitch hits the batter, the ball is dead. The batter is out and since he is the third out of the inning, no runs would score.
2. In ASA, high school, NCAA and USSSA fast pitch, there is no penalty and the catch stands as any fielder may wear a mitt or glove.
Did you get both answers right? If so, call me and I may have an umpire job for you.
Columns by KONP 1450 AM sports announcer Scooter Chapman appear weekly in the Sequim Gazette. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.