My son Andrew and my brother’s son Kenny played instructional baseball together for two years. For the most part, they enjoyed playing. One reason that all of the boys like to play was one of the pitchers was a cute young blonde girl. (And she was a great pitcher as well.)
The boys on the team thought that they were hot stuff. The team was named the Pirates. It was because the city of Pittsburgh is close and the city’s professional team is the Pirates. They were feeling taller than they really were. Their team’s uniforms were in the Pirates’ colors; white uniforms with black and gold trim.
Most of the ball fields sported port-a-potties, but otherwise, the ball fields were kept in good shape and well maintained. I’m not sure who mowed and raked the fields, but they did a great job.
My brother and I helped the coaches as much as we could at the practices with batting, pitching, and throwing and we supported them at the games by cheering, rooting, and occasionally we would even umpire.
One day, Kenny disappeared, but we didn’t notice it until it was time for the team to take the field. We started to look for him. A red hair topped head popped out of the port-a-potty and we finally noticed him. He had gone inside and used the outhouse only to find that there was no paper left in the dispenser. He didn’t know what to do. His only hope was to catch someone’s attention and have them find some paper to use.
My brother Ken went to the car, searching until he found some left-over paper napkins from a fast food restaurant. Kenny’s dignity was saved and the ball practice went on.
Sometimes my brother and I would be pressed into service as umpires to officiate a game. My brother was chosen more often than I was, because he was more assertive and more knowledgeable about the rules of the game than I was and that was alright with me.
I would get so involved in watching the game that I would come close to missing whether the runners were safe or out or the balls were hit foul or fair. It was difficult for me to concentrate on the things I should be concentrating.
The boys were still playing instructional baseball and learning the basics of the game. It was difficult for my brother to watch while other coaches were hard on their young charges. It bothered him to see some of the coaches being rough with the young players. These kids weren’t professionals and were only novice players. They were just learning. It was necessary for the coaches to point out the mistakes, but not to curse and swear at them. The rough treatment of the kids would actually make my brother angry.
Ken let the coaches know how he felt when he was the umpiring the game. Before the beginning of the first inning, he would call all of the coaches together and explain his rules. “I will warn you guys twice about cursing, swearing, or being rough with your players and then I will throw you out of the game. Consider this your first warning. Now, let’s play ball.”