I gave up umpiring because I had come to the realization that I was doing it more for the money than personal enjoyment.
In my wife Nancy's ongoing efforts to de-clutter our home's basement a wide assortment of items have become targets. Among the things that have made her bull's-eye list are our Christmas trees and boxes of general "stuff" that probably have been opened only once or twice in the 30-plus years that we have lived in our home.
My opinion on the looming de-clutter spree varies, depending on the items that have been designated to be given away or discarded. I became most resistant when Nancy's focus landed squarely on two equipment bags that contain the gear I used when umpiring high school baseball or fast-pitch softball.
Initially after my "retirement" from umpiring I wanted to hang on to my gear in case I ever wanted to make a comeback. But with it having been a decade since I last put the equipment on and had people question my eyesight, I acknowledge the odds of doing so now are slim.
I gave up umpiring because I had come to the realization that I was doing it more for the money than personal enjoyment. I also wanted to get out of umpiring before I became some old guy who was a liability on a ball field to himself, to his umpiring partner and to the teams that were competing.
Now, even if I wanted to stage a comeback, the Parkinson's symptoms I find myself dealing with would make it next to impossible to perform at the level at which I would want.
Consequently, it makes little sense for me to hang on to my umpiring gear at this point in my life. Still, the thought of getting rid of it was not easy to accept.
Rather than simply discard my equipment, I set out to find someone who might be interested in umpiring. But most want-to-be umpires simply bite the bullet and make the hefty cash investment for equipment. Then there are those who are funny about wanting to put on used equipment. But the biggest challenge was trying to find someone who even wants to umpire today.
I reached out to my nephew, Scott, who has a softball-playing daughter in college and a son in high school who plays baseball. I thought with their backgrounds umpiring my be a natural fit, but I never heard back from them after raising the subject.
Finally, I thought about offering my gear to Dan Hurst of the Hannibal-LaGrange University softball program. To my delight Dan indicated an interest in using the gear.
Before sending my equipment on to its new home I felt obliged to go through the equipment bags one final time to remove items that I didn't feel would be needed such as my steel-toed plate shoes, which protected my tootsies from foul balls and clumsy catchers on more than one occasion.
I also removed three athletic cups. While they served me well during my umpiring career, I couldn't see a practical use for them by the women's softball program, short of being utilized as unique candy dishes.
I was just about to close the bags for the final time when I happened upon a piece of paper that was folded in half.
"Surely this isn't a check I forgot to cash," I said to myself as I began to unfold the paper.
While not a check it was still of great value. It was a note from my youngest daughter, Anna, which simply said, "Good luck Dad!" Drawn next to the word “dad” was a big heart.
As I decided what to keep, to pitch or to give away from my umpiring past, what to do with the note from my daughter was the easiest decision I had to make.
The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Courier-Post.