It’s the middle of May, and baseball (and specifically Little League Baseball and Softball) seasons have started. It’s also time to start, officially, on the Road to Williamsport.
In order to get the future Little League World Series umpire crew acclimated and oriented, LL International has flown the umpires out to Williamsport for a two-day orientation session. We’ll cover the uniqueness of the event, communication and social media protocols, uniforming, and the like. We’ll do cage and field work to ensure that we are sound mechanically. We’ll start to gel together as a crew and, eventually become the third team out there.
The ability to realize a goal and achieve a dream is an incredibly powerful and humbling thing. Especially when the way go get here wasn’t certain, relied on the convictions of others and was frought with twists, turns and unforeseen circumstances – including some just a few months ago that could have up-ended the opportunity altogether.
But, I’m here now, alone, sitting in my dorm room where the Manager/Coaches of the teams who will eventually be here stay, sitting at the small pressed wood desk with a single incandescent lamp illuminating the room (far better than the hyper-bright soul sucking fluorescent overhead light) trying to take it all in – not too quickly, but in measured doses, like sips on a straw.
The trip started today at O’Hare International Airport, meeting fellow umpire and proud Canadian, Brad Johnston from Calgary, AB. We shared a delayed, short flight from Chicago to State College, PA where we were greeted by ‘Bill’ who drove us from the airport at State College to the complex at Williamsport to meet the rest of the crew who were already well into dinner.
The crew, save for two of our Western Region colleagues, all met at The Mountaineer for dinner. The Mountaineer, a short walk down (and then back up) the hill from the LL Complex is the quintessential central Pennsylvania bar and restaurant. The town watering hole, the public house, the place where everyone goes and where everyone knows your name – even if they haven’t met you yet. Dinner was graciously provided by the Umpire Coordinator and staff (Tom Rawlings, Mike Legge, Frank Policaro, and others).
After dinner, I found my assigned dormitory – New England – and even a door with my name on it. Convenient.
Breakfast at 7:30am sharp and orientation starts promptly at 8:15am. One moment, one day, one step closer to August!