NEWS BLOG (WSAU) The team from Fairfield, Connecticut was eliminated earlier this week at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. This is one of the leagues that I used to umpire in when I was in high school and college.
Someday, I’ll write a book about my amateur baseball umpiring experiences. (Right after I’m done writing my book about great train rides in North America and writing my broadcast industry memoirs.)
The Fairfield league was not as well organized as the league I later worked with in Laconia, New Hampshire. A lot of kids played baseball then. Soccer wasn’t nearly as popular as it is now. Fairfield didn’t have a tournament-quality Little League field. The best field was at Gould Manor Park, which had a home run fence and regular groundskeeping. There were no bleachers, no concession stand. Other games took place at four or five other fields, some at neighborhood playgrounds and others at area schools.
I was one of the better umpires in Fairfield, so I would usually get teamed up with an inexperienced rookie. I’d umpire once a week, usually on the “good” field at the park. But I was on-call three days a week. I’d walk to Gould Manor, just down the street to my house, and meet up with the Head of Officials. I’d hang around for 10 or 15 minutes to see if I was needed. I usually was. If they were short an umpire somewhere else, I’d hitch a ride with the Chief Ump to the field. He had a motorcycle. I’d arrive on the back of a Harley, which was always quite an entrance.
By the summer of 1987, I was pretty serious about my umpiring. I bought my own equipment. I had an under-the-shirt chest protector, my own shin guards, mask, and short-billed cap. If I blew a call, at least I looked good doing it. Other umpires used the equipment that was stored in a shed at the park. That summer there was an infestation of head lice. It spread like crazy, from one team to the next through the shared batting helmets that were kept in the same shed. Most umpires got it too. That summer everyone had a shaved head in the Fairfield Little League… except the umpire who had his own equipment.
The “lice season” was a low point for the Fairfield Little League. This year seems to be a high point.
Operations Manager, Midwest Communications-Wausau