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Tuesday 11th February, 2003

Back Home, More Pics, Guestbook 09:30 PST by ike

After School finished last Thursday, I zipped up to NYC for a party for Fran B. and to catch up with some Dartmouth friends before heading back to SF. Yesterday, I touched down safely in Oakland on JetBlue 85 to officially complete the adventure...

I promised more pictures, and here they are:

Axel Enjoying The Super Bowl

Daytona International Speedway

My Roommate, Randy

Four Umpires Singing Different National Anthems Simultaneously Before The Student Game The Last Day

Shauna And John Celebrating At The Banquet

Me And Larry Vanover

The Crew (L-R: John, Vic, Rafael and Dan)

Finally, I got around to adding a guestbook (better late than never, right?). I welcome your comments and questions!

Thursday February 6th, 2003

Closing Banquet and Evaluations 11:30 EST by ike

A rain-shortened Tuesday marked our last working day, and fortunately I had the opportunity to call an inning. I thought I performed well and improved my chances for selection come this morning.

Then yesterday we played the traditional student game, where the class divided itself into two teams, managed by either Dana DeMuth or Larry Vanover, and 6-umpire crews took turns calling the innings. For the purposes of the game, we were allowed stray from the standard mechanics and adopt whatever umpiring style we wanted. There were some clever choices, including one guy that flipped a coin after a bang-bang play at first and then called the runner out, and another that took a picture of the play at first before making his call.

Last night was the annual banquet, a nice event attended by both family and friends of the students and local/baseball dignitaries (I was hoping that Dartmouth alumnus Sandy Alderson would be there, but he was not). After the meal, Harry presented the much-anticipated awards for Umpire of the Year, Best Returning Student, Most Outstanding Student Runner-Up and Most Outstanding Student. The last three of these four earn automatic recommendations for pro ball.

Umpire of the Year went to Eddie Hickox, who I mentioned earlier carries the repuation of having extremely crisp mechanics. I probably did not describe in previous accounts is Eddie's incredible story of determination and humility. He umpired 16 years in the Minor Leagues before earning his promotion to the Big Leagues, where he worked for six months full-time before a dispute between Major League Baseball and the Umpires' Union left Eddie (and several other umpires) out of a job. While the majority of those umpires were reinstated following a court battle, Eddie was not. But instead of giving up on his goal of umpiring in the Major Leagues, he decided to go back to the lowest levels of Minor League ball and work himself all the way back to the top. Sure enough, Eddie's received an invitation to Spring Training this year, and everyone here at the school is hoping he makes it...

The student awards went to very deserving guys. Best Returning Student went to this kid Mark, who I saw work once and impressed me immediately. Most Outstanding Runner-Up went to this guy Bobby, who's super nice and played college baseball. Most Outstanding went to this kid John, only 20 years old from Deleware, and actually one of my better friends at the school.

The rest of the recommendations were given this morning at 'Evaluations', where we meet with an instructor one-on-one and go over our report card, learning if we've qualified for pro ball. As things turned out, many of my friends earned spots in the PBUC program: Dan, the guy that sat next to me in lecture; Vic, the kid that looks like Cameron Johnson; Rafael, from Puerto Rico; Isaiah, the other 'Ike'; and Shuana, the lone female student. My field ended up representing itself extremely well, sending more than half of the 25 selected.

My evaluation happened to be with Eddie, who saw me do some good things on the field on a couple of occasions. Unfortunately, I wasn't among those in the top 25 that made the cut, and therefore will not participate in the PBUC course in Coco Beach, FL. But, I did finish #28, and made the so called 'Reserve List' -- if Minor League baseball needs someone mid-season, they go to the Reserves and start making phone calls. I'm #3 on that list, so my chances of getting a call are actually pretty decent. In the meantime, it's probably back to the Bay Area, where I'll be either umpiring or coaching, staying sharp.

I have a bunch of pictures waiting for upload, and I expect to post them this weekend, so stay tuned. Other than the pics, though, so ends my experience at Umpire School. I'm sad that I won't be going to Coco, especially given that the rest of my crew (Dan, John and Vic, not to mention Rafael) will be there. I look back on some plays I had that I could have executed better, that might have slid me up a few notches. Still, it turned out alright down here. I met some fun kids, and working with and learning from the Minor and Major League umpires was a huge thrill.

And if there's any more umpiring in my future, I be sure to report the highlights...

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