Published 12:00 am Friday, April 29, 2005



not jeers

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By Kevin Taylor

Think a moment about your job.

What do you like about it?

Better yet, what don't you like about it?

Are you constantly scrutinized over every move or decision you make?

If you answered yes to the third question, you are probably a doctor, a journalist, a coach or an umpire.

And umpires arguably have the toughest jobs around.

When a team wins, no one pats the umpire on the back and says nice job. You rarely see a single line in the sports section saying that the play at the plate was called correctly because of the eagle-eyed umpire.

But woe unto an umpire if that ball was actually a strike. Or better yet, if he misses the call at home.

I thought being a journalist was a thankless job, but I wouldn't trade my job for a mask, chest protector and blue shirt any day.

Monday's high school softball game between Charles Henderson and Greenville brought back memories of the ugly side of sports.

Fans, who are mostly parents of the players, ridicule the umpire because a strike sure looked like a ball and a ball sure looked like a strike.

In Game 1 of the doubleheader, an umpire tried to speed up the game by keeping the Lady Trojans from huddling up on the pitchers mound after every out.

Needless to say, the umpire could have been characterized as the Grinch who stole Christmas for trying to speed the game up by Charles Henderson's coach and the fans.

It did work, but the double header still took almost four hours to complete.

I don't have a child who plays sports. But as a person who is supposed to observe with an unbiased eye, I sometimes wish that a parent who ridiculed the ump over a call could just step into his shoes.

Umpiring also can be a dangerous job.

Odessa, Texas, police are continuing to investigate a case in which four men are accused of assaulting tow umpires after a recreation softball game last Tuesday.

One umpire suffered two broken bones in his hand and cuts and bruises after four men jumped him, according to a report in the Odessa American. The umpires were allegedly attacked after one of the umpires ejected two players for using profanity. The umpire then threw another player out after that player threatened that umpire.

But this is not just an isolated incident.

The four men now face misdemeanor assault charges.

In most states, assault ing a sports official is a misdemeanor offense, but not in Connecticut.

Earlier this year the state legislature passed a bill in which an attack on a sports official will become a felony offense effective Oct. 1 of this year.

Attacks on umpires have become so overwhelming that

The National Association of Sports Officials is now offering assault insurance.

Sometimes an umpire can miss a call because he just didn't see it.

I sometimes may whistle over a call or two, but we are talking about human beings here.

To err is human, but to punch an umpire's lights out over a missed call is just plain ignorant.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. He can be reached at or call him at 382-3111 ext. 122.