Just this past Wednesday, I attended an event in downtown St. Louis with many hotel associates. As I was walking around, I noticed a gentleman I used to worked for about 15 years ago. I was unable to talk to him as he was working and was far away from me when I recognized him. It got me thinking of all the jobs I have had so far in my life and what did I learn from them.
I had turned 15 years old when I began my career path and was an umpire for little league baseball. We had a local park in my hometown where I had played at just the previous year. It was an extremely flexible job because I was also playing baseball for my high school as well as Legion baseball during the summer. Even with all that going on, my parents wanted me to get my feet wet with a part-time job. So I did just that by umpiring. I would get to the park and work 1 or 2 games depending on the night. We got paid by how many games we worked. I worked as many as I could as it was something I loved doing. I was around baseball and I got to be involved in a different part of the game. It was a blast.
Two events I remember taught me about perseverance and patience in confrontation. Umpires deal with a lot of confrontation, that I have seen numerous times. What shocked me is that it happened as much as it did in 7th grade baseball! I made a call at first once that I will admit was wrong. I called the runner out when he was clearly safe. I looked at the play and did not listen for the ball to hit the glove. The coach came on to the field and I was ready to get screamed at as I was already beginning to second guess my call. The coach put his arm around me and simply said, “You got it wrong and I think you know it.” I told him I knew I missed it and he simply said, “Mistakes happen. But remember this Travis, keep having fun.” That was it. He walked away and the call did not play any call on the game. It showed me how to deal with a problem situation properly. Not lose it and scream at someone, that accomplishes zilch.
The second event was a game I was working with someone I saw at the event mentioned at the beginning. I did not talk with him as he was walking away at the end of the event, but I would like to get in touch with him to see how he is doing. Anyway, I digress. We were working a game one night that took forever. I was behind the plate and it was taking forever. That happens a lot in little league baseball with a lot of offense and not a lot of defense. The game was nearly at the automatic game stoppage with one team up by 10 in the fifth inning. The bases were loaded with two outs. The batter had two strikes on him and a pitch came that was right on the corner. I was about ready to call him out and the game would be over. Time to go home early!! Instead, I called it a ball. I was shocked I even called it a ball. This time, this call bit not only myself but my friend working in the field. Why did it bite you may ask? Well, the inning lasted about 40 minutes as they came back to take the lead in this one inning. The game ended up lasting until about 11:45 that night, about two hours later than expected. We were not even allowed to start and inning after 11pm. So guess what happened the last inning! I apologized to my buddy and he had forgotten about the call and told me that this was the greatest game he had ever been apart of before. It taught me this: Even through adversity, focus on the positive.
I only umpired for one spring/summer as baseball commitments controlled me more after that freshman summer. I still have to say I enjoyed that job and still look at it as a learning experience, even though with these two stories, I was not the greatest umpire. But hey, everyone makes mistakes, right?
Next time: The Jobs I have worked – Referring Soccer