Category: Hall of Fame

Day One in Cooperstown

Day One in Cooperstown

In January, I was asked if I would be willing to go to Cooperstown New York, to umpire in a youth baseball tournament. Without hesitating, I took advantage of the opportunity. The first thing that needed to take place, was getting to Cooperstown Dreams Park.

I am 21 years old, so I can’t rent a car. My age means that I would have had to make the trip with somebody. I asked my dad to come with me. Dad has made the trip. We won’t be staying together during the week, but traveling across the country with him has been enjoyable so far.

We took off from Seattle at 6 p.m. on Thursday night. Our flight took off for Salt Lake City, Utah. Having live TV in the headrest of the seat in front of you is a luxury I was happy to have. The toughest part of the trip, was the landing. I believe the ground snuck up on the pilot, as the wheels hit the pavement aggressively. The plane landed in Utah at 9 p.m. local time.

After a two hour layover, we took off towards Boston. The plane went wheels up at 11:50. The ride was turbulent, so much so that in flight service was hardly provided. Sleeping wasn’t an option, so I struggled through a USC documentary, sports center, and other tv shows. The plane landed at 6 a.m. eastern time.

The journey wasn’t complete, as our final destination was in New York. We rented a car, and pointed the car west. I was excited to see the city of Boston but our route took use on Ted Williams Tunnel. As you can imagine, the Tunnel took us under the city. I caught a glimpse of Fenway Park, but it wasn’t much.

Tolls. The only toll I’m used to paying is the Tacoma Narrows toll. On interstate  93, we encountered several tolls. The fee wasn’t much, but it happened often enough to annoy a pair of tourist such as ourselves.

Four hours after landing in Boston, we arrived at my dads hotel. It didn’t have the same name as was listed previous, which was a little nerve racking. Dad committed to staying here for the week. The hotel is about 40 minutes out from the facilities.

After a nap, or sleeping, however you would categorize it, we went to check in at the park. On arrival, we were awe struck at the sight of it all. The park features 22 ball fields, dorms for players and umpires and a cafeteria. We were allowed to drive down to the umpire bunks, and get all of my equipment in a living space.

We met a handful of the other umpires. Most of my peers are retired and make CDP their home for the summer. The facility holds a tournament for 13 straight weeks.

While signing in, I learned a little bit about what I would be doing for the week. Umpires work with the same people, on the same field all week long. They gave me tow umpire shirts, a jacket, an undershirt, a hat, a water bottle, two baseballs and a bag full of pins.

Pins. Each team brings their own pins, and the kids trade, trade, trade and trade. As I was moving in, thousands of kids were asking other kids to trade their pins. It’s a sight to behold.

The first two days of the trip are complete. Work begins tomorrow, but I’m ready for it. I’m happy to be here, and can’t wait to see what the week has in store.

All-star Importance, Lack-Luster Presentation

All-star Importance, Lack-Luster Presentation

The Minnesota Twins secured home field advantage in the World Series last night. A pair of Kansas City Royals each drove in two runs, giving the American League the win in the Major League Baseball All-star game. The problem with the all-star game is not that the winning league receives home field advantage in the World Series, it’s the presentation.

The MLB All-star game has consequences even though it is an exhibition. The National Football League and National Basketball Association all-star games are hardly worth watching. No part of the game resembles and actual contest between the best players from each league. Robinson Cano got one at bat in last nights all-star game. Cano worked a full count, eventually drawing a walk. That approach and effort was no different from any regular season game.

The image of the all-star game has yet to evolve with the significance of the game. During the regular season, players talk to each other while they are on  the field. However players may cover their mouth with their glove, or cameras cut away from the conversation. During an all-star game broadcast, the on field banter between players is glorified, making it feel less intense than a regular season game. If players weren’t mic’d up, or the playful nature wasn’t glorified, this game would feel like any other.

The pageantry that comes with an all-star game is to be expected. The players in the game are the best in the world at what they do. Events such as fan fest, as well as the red carpet do not take away from the game being played. Moving forward, the hoopla should take place the night before during the home run derby.

The Twins are 32-56, 20 games back in their division, and 17.5 games back of the second wild card spot. If the Twins can turn their season around, game one of the World Series will be in Minnesota. Opposed to popular opinion, I have no problem with the all-star game deciding where game one of the World Series takes place. However, the presentation of the event should match the magnitude of the outcome.

Opportunities Provided by Youth Baseball

Opportunities Provided by Youth Baseball

Youth baseball has played a major role in my life. From the time I was able to walk, I wanted to be playing baseball. With age, my roles in youth baseball have changed. I have gone from player, to umpire. Being the regulator of little league drama has been difficult at times, yet rewarding all the while. Through umpiring, I have been presented an opportunity that I would be an absolute fool to turn down.

I have been an umpire for Federal Way National Little League for a little more than four years. Through the little league, I was able to work a couple select ball tournaments. The Federal Way Knights hold a pair of tournaments, that I have worked for the past few years. During the tournaments, I have learned more about the game than I could have imagined. Those kids play spectacular baseball that is incredibly fun to watch.

In January, I received a call from one of the higher ups in the Federal Way Knights organization. Every couple of years, the Knights participate in a tournament in Cooperstown New York. About a thousand teams participate in this tournament each year. Each team is required to bring an umpire, and the Knights chose me.

The organization will take care of my travel, room and board, as well as my food for the week. Every umpire who works the tournament will be inducted into the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame. By September, I will be in a baseball Hall of Fame. You better believe I will wear that out.

As part of the trip, I will get a pass into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I will take a walk through Cooperstown, just months after Ken Griffey Jr. will be inducted. The Hall of Fame is something I figured I would get to when I was 60 or 70 years old. Just a few days after my 21st birthday, I will be in New York, seeing baseball’s greatest museum.

Baseball is providing me with incredible opportunities. Being willing to work any game for Federal Way National has payed off. Taking what I do seriously during the Federal Way Knight tournaments has lead to great things. For the rest of my life, I will be grateful for what youth baseball has given me.