Friday, March 5, 2010

Cast of Characters, Version 1.0

As an umpire, you meet some interesting folks. Your home park will reveal its own peculiar personalities and teams from other areas will certainly bring with them certain eccentrics and oddballs. The first subject in a feature I’ll call “Cast of Characters” is a long-time umpire who has established himself as “The Glove Doctor”, the go-to guy for all things related to baseball gloves.

Young players don’t understand how to properly care for a mitt. Gloves are not broken in correctly, they get wet, dry out, stay in equipment bags all winter, are left in the garage and are otherwise treated as an afterthought. The Glove Doctor is my park’s answer to protecting and caring for the second most important piece of defensive equipment.

The Glove Doctor knows how to break in your glove (no more dropping it in a bucket of water or using Vaseline), he can bring back to life something that looks like a dog’s chew toy and he’s the resident expert in all things leather and laces. This is the guy who has a preferred glove conditioner ointment that he buys direct from the manufacturer. When that manufacturer experienced a fire, The Glove Doctor contacted them, wanting to know when they’d be back in business – after offering his condolences.

True story: His doorbell rang one evening and when his wife answered, a visitor was standing there, glove in hand, asking, “Is this where The Glove Doctor lives?” It’s a steady hobby but he’s not quite sure he breaks even financially. His reputation has grown over the years and players at Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia sport gloves worked on by The Glove Doctor. His goal is to have one of his gloves appear in the College World Series.

If you’re in the North Atlanta area and need some glove work, or if you just want to “talk leather”, contact The Glove Doctor at

Monday, March 1, 2010

Timing Is Everything

I had lunch last fall with three MLB umpires. I won’t name them only because I didn’t tell them I would be writing about our get-together – this was before I started this blog.

Anyway, they were very forthcoming with information and answers to any and all questions. Their extensive knowledge of the game was obvious and they even quizzed me a bit. Each experienced a different path to the major league level and each official was very impressive.

The stories about different stadiums, players and coaches were superb but the one concept that came up a few times was timing. “If you find that you’ve made a mistake or think you missed a call,” one of them said, “it’s probably because your timing was off. You were probably going too quickly.”

Timing was drilled into us at the Southern Umpires Camp and it’s something I think about during every game – even the ones where I’m a spectator. “Slow down, slow down…where’s the timing?” instructors implored us at the camp, over and over again. Timing helps you call a good game and it also lends a bit of authority to your decisions. I think it tells the players, coaches and fans that, even in that little second or two that you wait, you’ve given the call proper attention and consideration.

So, when I hit the field this season, I’ll remember the stories of the best players, the managers that come with the best arguments, which stadiums these guys like to work and timing. Timing, as they say, is everything.