Would that we were all so honest…

My friend Scotty is a little-league umpire, and he related an experience of his to me. I’ll likely get some of the details wrong.

He was officiating a junior little-league game this last week, where the players were all seven and eight years old. It was tied, 1-1, at the end of the fifth and final inning, so they went into their special “extra innings” rules. Under these rules, the inning begins with a runner on second, so that it becomes much more likely that these poor tired little kids will be able to end the game with someone actually winning.

In the seventh inning, the 2nd-base runner for the visiting team was a six-year-old who had slipped in with a wink and a nod. The batter hit the ball, and the little guy took off. The ball was grounded and thrown to the 3rd-baseman, who fell down trying to tag this six-year-old runner as he rounded third. The umpire called him safe, and the third baseman struggled to get up and throw it home, but threw wide, and the six-year-old crossed the plate.

Scotty, who had made the call at third, was ready to have the pitcher continue the inning when he found a tug at his pants leg.

The six-year-old runner was looking up at him. Scotty said “good job,” and made to give him a high-five, but the boy said “he got me.”


“He got me on my foot. You said I was safe, but I wasn’t.”

Scotty called the coaches to the field, and had the boy tell them what he had told him. The boy’s coach was a little taken aback, but knew that much more was at stake here than something as silly as who scored a run.

Scotty said “I know the rules. The umpire calls ’em, and a call like this can’t be changed. At this young man’s request, though, I’m going to ignore that rule. He said he’s out, well, he’s out. The score is 1-1. Play ball.”

I don’t know how the game ended, and I don’t really care. I wish I could be as honest as that kid. I would that we were ALL so honest.


9 thoughts on “Would that we were all so honest…”

  1. It’s only honesty if the kid is denying himself of some burning desire to win at softball. I don’t know many six year olds who would have that. Maybe at the age of six this is explained more by a lack of drive.

    1. I disagree. He actually took the time to go tell the umpire of the mistake, instead of just not caring. I think he pretty clearly cared about having the call (and the outcome of the game) be correct and honest.

  2. I sincerely hope that when it’s all over, someone makes a point of giving that kid some sort of recognition for it, too. Fair play and sportsmanship get a lot of lip service, but damnably little representation – and almost no acknowledgement when they do happen. Let the kid get his due.

  3. It very nice that the child told the truth – they’re should be more like him.

    I’d have the ump up on charges, though.

    One, he broke the rules: the call is the call, end of story.

    Two, he showed favoritism. He would never have reversed the call if the opposite happened. If the catcher said “I tagged him,” instead of the runner saying “he tagged me,” the ruling would have stood. Both statements would have been true: the one made against self-interest carried more weight.

    Three, even for the runner it still a matter of quesswork whether or not the tag was good. He was running full tilt and probably never saw the tag – he may have only felt it in passing.

    Bad calls are a part of the game. As long as they are evenly distributed, they are a wash over the long term. Accepting the call: fair or unfair, for or against you, is part of the job.

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