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Thursday 2nd January, 2003

It's On... 20:15 EST by ike

I departed in the early AM from San Jose, CA (thanks for the ride, Dad) and travelled smoothly through Dallas en route to Orlando, easily catching my late afternoon van shuttle to Daytona Beach. Delighted by warm tropical breezes and lack of central Florida traffic, I arrived in Daytona ahead of schedule, which allowed for a seamless rendez vous with cousins Ken, Sheryl and Scott. After spending a very pleasant night (thank you cousins), Sheryl dropped me at the Desert Inn and Suites, my home for the next five weeks at Harry Wendelstedt's School for Umpires... The lobby was teeming with other students, who, like me, were waiting for Brian (one of at least two or three instructors with that name) to call us once our room assignments were prepared. This process happened to take quite a while, which allowed me to quietly kibbitz a rowdy card game (some variation of gin -- if only it were hearts!). An hour and a quarter later, I got my room key (7th floor, out of a possible 7, and no roommate as yet) and dropped my bags quickly in order to head over to the second phase of registration, taking place in one of the hotel suites. Another delay greeted me here, so I waited in the hallway and starting meeting a few of the guys, such as Josh (from Buffalo) and Gayton (from Las Vegas). In time, it was my turn to enter the suite, where I collected my t-shirt and rule book (hat to follow) and met instructors Andy and Scott (minor league umpires), as well as Jerry Lane (who seemed very friendly)(as he charged my Visa), Chief Instructor Paul Nauert and the big kahuna himself, Harry Wendelstedt -- all three of these men are current or former Major League umpires. Yeeeeeee!

After securing peanut butter, turkey and some white bread at the local 7-Eleven, I headed to the final event of the day, school convocation. At least 100-120 students (including at least one woman and 3 students from Puerto Rico -- professional umpires from Japan are on the way) listened as Harry and Paul introduced the rest of the staff and delivered some remarks. We then broke up to accomodate the bowl game enthusiasts, and I rushed to write this report.

From the looks of it, there's going to be stiff competition. The majority of the students are men in their 20's with what I estimate as average to strong athletic backgrounds. Out of the 100-120 students, it's fair to assume that around 20 will move to professional baseball right away.

In any case, class begins at 8:30 tomorrow morning -- it's on....

Tuesday 31st December, 2002

Leaving Tonight 23:10 PST by ike

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