Abuse from an old friend

Last week’s question was about the infield fly rule.

The infield fly rule is in effect when there are runners on first and second base or the bases are loaded. In either of these situations, any pop-up (fly ball) in fair territory (that is not a bunt) that, in the opinion of the umpire, can be caught by any infielder with normal effort is an “infield fly.”

It can be an infield fly even if the ball comes down outside of the infield dirt. The umpire hollers, “Infield fly, if fair, the batter is out.”

If you think about it, it makes sense. If the rule was not in effect, the infielder could intentionally drop the pop-up and have an easy double play because the baserunners would be holding their bases. Sometimes, making that call is tricky if it is a windy day, deciding on “normal effort.”

I love reminiscing about former students who I eventually umpired games for as a player, a coach, or both.

One of my favorites is Cap.

Cap was a good player on the ninth-grade basketball team that I coached. He later ran on the cross-country team that I coached. He did the latter just for conditioning, as he was an outstanding left-handed pitcher.

He played college baseball at Central Michigan University and had a few years in the minor leagues before returning to Michigan, where he became a very successful high school and junior college baseball coach.

Now, I had a great relationship with Cap’s dad while coaching Cap.

Dad was supportive and seemed to be a great guy. I even allowed him to be in the locker room after games.

He was, for years, Santa Claus at Christmas for many organizations.

As Cap’s career progressed, Dad’s attitude changed.

It was adult summer baseball. Cap was pitching and I was the plate umpire. I was getting some of the worst fan abuse I had ever heard. It went on for several innings and, finally, curiosity got the better of me.

Between innings, I wandered back to the screen, removed my mask, and glanced over the crowd. I couldn’t figure out who was doing all of the complaining, but, from that point on, the nasty comments stopped.

Later, another fan told me it was Cap’s dad and another dad who were giving me all of the abuse. It seems he didn’t know it was me umpiring and was suddenly a bit ashamed of his conduct.

I was later told that he was banned from CMU games when Cap was pitching.

There will be several more “Cap” stories in future columns. He is one of those people that I liked and respected as a player and coach and was one of the best pitchers I was privileged to call balls and strikes for.

Rules question for the week: We have the bases loaded with no outs. The batter hits a pop-up to the area of the shortstop. The umpires call “infield fly, if fair, batter is out.”

The shortstop drops the pop-up and it bounces off his glove into left field.

Can the base runners advance?


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today