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.