Arrived safely at Danville, Virginia, after a 24 hours trip. Started at 5pm at home, drove to Munique Airport, flew into Atlanta and finally was picked up by a coach going from South Florida to Danville, another 8 hours car ride.
At the Moment I really do not know what is waiting on me the next few weeks. Umpiring seems not to be on a high level here what organizer told me – I will see. We will work 2 men mostly and I’m scheduled as plate umpire for opening game on Sunday, June 1.
Here is a list of the ballparks I will work in mostly, just fill the address into Google maps and take a satellite view. No Major League ballparks but better than many field at home.
Danville, VA Averett University, North Campus, 707 Mount Cross Rd, Danville, VA, 24540
Danville, VA Market Garden Field, 650 Henry St, Danville, VA, 24540
Richmond, VA Tuckahoe LL, 2400 Little league Dr, Henrico, VA,23233
Lynchburg, VA Liberty Christian Academy, 100 Mountain View Rd, Lynchburg, VA, 24502
Dublin/Pulaski, VA Calfee Park, 42 1st St NW, Pulaski, VA, 24301
Durham, NC Historic Durham Athletic Park, 5000 West Corporation St, Durham, NC, 27701
Leland, NC Brunswick Community College, 50 College Rd, Bolivia, NC, 28422
Wilmington, NC Legion Sports Complex, 2139 Carolina Beach Rd, Wilmington, NC, 28403
Wilmington, NC Hoggard HS, 4305 Shipyard Blvd, Wilmington, NC 28403
Day 2 (May 31)
Visited the ballparks in and around Danville today. they all not bad at all. Especially the Danville Braves ballbark is very nice altough I doubt that we will play there. Danville Braves are affiliated with Atlanta Braves and play in the MiLB Appalachian League.
I share my room with the coach from Florida who picked me up yesterday. Although he is a quite young man (25) he knows a lot about coaching and players seem to respect him.
I will put some photos online later on.
Day 3 and 4 (June 1-2)
Had my two first games, well training games, nothing special. The organization of this whole WBL thing seems not to be the best, for example they forgot to pick me up for my first game. The problem is that the whole organization is done by one guy.
On Tuesday we will be on the road and face another team, hopefully the first real game. I still do not understand the system of this „league“, as far as I understood the college spring season ends middle of May and fall season starts middle of August. Between this 2 seasons players are looking for possibilities to play for a summer league team like the one here in Danville.
More interesting is the fact that I got into contact with the league president of the Appalachian League. Maybe I get the opportunity to work a couple of pro games, I already submitted my 5 weeks pro school certificate. Things like assurance are still subjects to clarify. If I get the chance this will be a great experience and only for this the trip was worth to do.
Official league website: http://www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=l120
Day 5 and 6 (June 3-4)
Worked a game at Lynchburg, VA at the Liberty Christian Academy field near the Liberty University. The NCAA baseball and the football stadiums of the university are awesome, would like to work on a field like that.
The colleague I worked with was a young guy who already umpires for 5 years (he told me), but to be honest, he would not get a license even in Austria – no idea about responsibilities or where to move. In general when I compare the umpire level at home with what I’ve seen so far over here, I would say we can be proud of what we have achieved.
Yesterday I met an older very nice guy named Haymore, who is in charge of umpires in that area, mainly high school. He knows the president of the Appy League and will help me to get a game there. To be honest I still can’t believe that it really will become true as there are a lot of things to be taken into account. But besides that it is amazing how a certificate of a 5 weeks pro school opens the doors.
Day 7-9 (June 5-7)
Had 2 games at plate: One at Lynchberg in 1 1/2 men System – no 2nd umpire so different players worked bases – and one ia Averett university which was the first real game. My partner was a local umpire, nice guy but untrained. It’s amazing how little umpires now about responsibilities and where to move on the field. It looks like you have a 2 class System over here: The pro umpires and the collage/high school umpires who are trained and then the rest. So the theory we have in Austria that a player who is coming to Europe to play automatically is an umpire too is definitely wrong.
Today I will work a night game at Martinsville ballpark at 7:00 pm.
Tomorrow I will go to find a travel agency and try to change my flight schedule, means I am thinking about going home earlier than July 7. To be honest what I’ve seen so far is not what was promised and what I expected.
Day 10 (June 8)
Had a night game at Martinsville with 2 real umpire colleagues, we worked 3 men. The game was a little lopsided and the 1st base umpire made some mistakes which led to a situation where 2 umpires made a call on the same tag, and guess what… of course 🙂
After the game they asked me to do another night game tomorrow together. Why not? But unfortunately I’m already scheduled for a night game at Market Garden. We will see.
Day 11 (June 9)
I woke up in the morning as usual. At the breakfast the organizer asked me if I want to change to the Beach League in Myrtle Beach together with my room mate, one of the coaches. They are in need of an assistant coach there and I can go with him. Of course I agreed and some hours later we are here.
Imagine to change from hell to heaven, that’s what I felt when we arrived. Beautiful appartments located in a golf resort, a summer league only with collage players division 2 and 3 and 3 men system for all games. Can’t await my first game here.
Day 12 and 13 (June 10-11)
Worked 4 games in the last 2 days, all on bases in 3 men system. Quality of games is good so far. There are 7 teams with 25 players each, all college division 2 and 3. The umpirs who work the games are local high school guys, most of them aged 50+. They are assigned by a local umpire federation and they are paid 85$ a single game (!). For most of them money is the reason to umpire and this you can see when they are working. Unfortunately these umpires are not well trained so they do not know their responsibilities, they do not move and they do not communicate.
Usually the games will be done in 2 men System, I was just an extra the last days to get me into the rotation. End of week I should get my own assignments and I am sure that some of the local guys are not happy with because I am taking money from them although I don’t get any.
The accomodation at Brunswick Plantation Golf Resort is great but about 30 miles axay from Myrtle Beach and in the middle of nowhere. I’m thinking about renting a car.
Here is the league website: Beach League Baseball
Day 14-16 (June 12-14)
Had 2 games again om Thursday and my first plate appearence. Unfortunately it was rained out by a thunderstorm after a few innings. No games since that as the local umpire „Mafia“ strikes back. The guys are not happy that I might take away money from them doing games instead of them, even I am not paid. Some complained that I am too strict on mechanics and that I am too „professional“.
Here is an example for a local umpire’s approach to his job: We worked 3 men and I was on first, after 5 innings he left… without any comment to me. So we did 2 men the rest of the game. Literally he cashed 85$ and I did half of his job.
I picked up a rental car till my departure at July 7, so if they do not let me work I go to the beach. That’s fine too.
Day 17-20 (June 15-18)
Five days off.. beach, shopping and sleeping. Very relaxing. Yesterday I got 2 games in 2 men system, first behind plate (1:0 in 9 innings) and second on bases. In the first game my base umpire was great: a 66 years old college umpire. He was the first „real“ umpire I met over here and we enjoyed ourselves working together. We never met before and never worked together and still we have been a very good team – that’s the great thing about umpiring when everyone knows the system.
Today another day off today, so beach and shopping again.
Day 21-25 (June 19-23)
Things get settled down, I am now in the umpire pool and get around 5 to 6 appointments a week, mainly at the Brunswick community college ballpark. There are 4 different ballparks used for this league which are between 30 and 60 minutes away from our accomodation in different areas. It seems that for the Brunswick area there are not so many umpires waiting for appointments (=money) as for the rest so I work mainly there.
Yesterday I had my first ejection: It was in the 9th inning, the coach went to the mount and after a reasonable time I came up (I worked plate) and asked him very politely to end his visit. He started to argue and call me some things. I watched this coach in several games and he always tried to intimitate and show up the umpires mainly without any reason. I not gonna let him get away with that when I am on the field.
The weather is terrible: Very hot but also a lot of rain in the evening and during the nights which causes a very uncomfortable humidity. Today I got a day off so I maybe go to Wilminton NC to visit the USS North Caroline battleship museum.
Day 26-29 (June 24-27)
Had 5 games in the 3 last days, 3 of them behind plate. The temperatures are pretty high the last days (around 32 degrees) but the worst thing is the unbelievable high humidity. After a few minites in the sun you feel the sweat run down into your shoes.
Quality of games is getting worse due to heat and lack of pitchers although every team has 8 to 10 of them. But many throwers don’t have control which makes the games long (sometimes more than 3 hours for a 9 inning game). We gonna see how the last week of my stay over here will be.
Day 30-32 (June 28-30)
Only one game in the last 3 days but this was weird: I was supposed to work bases so I already dressed up at the condo and left my plate gear at home – my fault. When I arrived at the ballpark my colleague was in base outfit too. He said that he already worked 2 games today and he not gonna work this game behind plate (he had all his gear with him) – so he worked behind the mound. I never worked 2 men with the plate umpire behind the mound, just imagine how interesting the mechanics are. I stayed most times behind first base. What I learned in this game is to watch your partner closely and to react to his actions in every single play. Surprisingly no problems in the game though it was a close one with 3-1.
On Friday a hurricane is expected to rain out all games for the weekend. Hopefully it is over when I hit the olain on Monday morning.
Day 33-34 (July 1-2)
Yesterday I was scheduled to have a day off. I was sitting at breakfast around 10:00 am as a coach came in and told me that I have to go to Brunswick Community College field immediately as the umpires didn’t show up. The whole umpire appointments are a mess! So I did 2 games instead of going to the beach.
Today hurricane Arthur is expected to hit our area. I am curiuos as this is my first hurricane. Games are already cancelled for today and tomorrow so probably the games yesterday have been the last ones for me over here.
Day 35-39 (July 3-7)
The hurricane passed by on the sea and did not hit the land, so ak we got was heavy rain for some hours – enough rain to flood the fields and make them unplayeble. I did not get any game anymore, so the amount of games I did is far less than I expected (my expectation was around 50 and I worked only 23 in total).
Now I am waiting at Myrtle Beach Airport for my flight to Atlanta (via Charlotte). I will give a resumee of my trip within the next few days.