I have been retired from coaching baseball for three years and I miss it, but at 71, I don’t know how many fungos I can hit or how much BP I can throw. To kill this void in my life I go to high school, middle school and little league or rec games on weekends. I became more aware of things from watching these games that I was not that much aware of when I was coaching. One of the things I notice is how knowledgeable parents are of rules and the strike zone.

I think it is ridiculous to pay umpires when parents can do it so well from outside the fence. Another thing is that I wonder if parents got as upset with me as a coach as they do with their sons’ or daughters’ coaches. After one of the high school games I was watching this year one of the umpires said “hello” to me and asked me if I would like to grab a bite to eat with them. I said, “No, people hate you guys.”

Umpires are men and women who love the sport and want to be involved in the game. Instead of coaching, they umpire. Well, whether they are good, bad, male or female, they are stupid. Why subject themselves to the kind of verbal abuse and sometimes physical abuse they might experience? What kind of role models are we, as parents and grandparents, becoming? It’s the umpire that loses a game because of a call that goes against one team. It’s certainly not because of errors committed by players or a player who misses a sign or a decision by the coach that didn’t work. It’s the umpire!

To show the umpire how mad I am, I’m going to follow him or her to their car and give them a piece of my mind. Everything I have said about baseball umpires holds the same truths for basketball referees. Don’t get me wrong, as a coach, I have always wanted to win and I didn’t want a player playing for me that didn’t want to win.

Maybe I’ll talk about the coach the next time.

Gus Bell


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