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With the spring comes all sorts of youth sports and while I’ve garnered many stories from coaching along the way, I reflected on a tale that I thought I’d share with you from when I coached my daughter’s 9-10 fast pitch youth softball team.

It was a 10 AM game at the North School diamond. It was borderline brisk, but a sunshiny spring day, not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning, trying to teach the girls the love and fun of the game.

Our team was a dynamo that year and after retiring the side in the 3rd inning, we took our raps comfortably in the lead. The other team’s pitcher could not find the plate and our first two batters walked. The umpire was a nice enough guy and called a fair game.

Now fast pitch softball for 9-10 year old girls yields some occasionally erratic pitches. None though, quite as memorable as this one.

With a one ball, one strike count, the opposing pitcher bounced one low, landing off the back of home plate. The ball caromed oddly, passing by the catcher, hitting the umpire squarely where the sun don’t shine.

With an audible “Oomph” the man in blue instantly called it a ball then respectfully turned and doubled over moaning. The count was now fittingly two balls and one strike.

Some parents snickered, most fathers groaned in sympathy, the poor umpire stood clutching the backstop quite obviously in pain. The girls were oblivious to what happened. The ump waved me away when I asked if he needed an ice pack.

Play was stopped. This umpire literally was so good, he actually raised his hands to signal a stoppage in play before turning around.

The girls from my team, the ones who were really paying attention, started asking questions:

Why is the game stopped?
Is Morgan (the batter) OK?
Is the game over?
Can we have our snacks now?

I dutifully defrayed their queries with random answers that satisfied their youthful inquisitiveness. Except for Nikki.

Nikki had older brothers. Innocently and quite matter of factly she asked me, “Coach, did that hit him in the nuts?”

I paused. There was no other answer. “Yes, yes it did, Nikki.” As a coach, you must be honest.

To his credit, the man in blue sucked it up and finished the game. After the game, he asked me, “I’ve got two more games to go. Somewhere around here I can buy a cup?”

“There’s a Kmart down the block. Sporting goods. Aisle 10. Maybe they’ve got a Blue Light special. ”

“Thanks, man,” He added, ”I’ve already seen the blue lights.”

“I hear ya. You called a good game,” I replied,

“Thanks.”

That pitch gave a whole new meaning to the song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

FOOTNOTE: To lend authenticity to the tale, I traveled back to the very diamond where the event happened. Although this happened about ten years ago, the cover photo shows the backstop and home plate still remain.

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