Archived Story

Ump to coach: ‘You’re just upset because we’re winning’

Published 8:13am Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

“I was just thinking about my father. Dad, if you’re up there, I’m thinking about you.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know your father had died.”

“Died? He’s a roofer.”

Driving by the Bruces

I have two wonderful neighbors — both named Bruce — who live across the road from each other. Whenever I pass their driveways, thoughts occur to me, such as: how is it possible to think the unthinkable?

I’ve learned

1. People on high horses get thrown.

2. I earn more money in a year than some professional athletes do in a day.

3. If I were stranded on an island and could bring only one thing, I’d bring a boat.

Those thrilling days of yesteryear

The cafe and the barbershop were the places to go to become misinformed. My uncle Bill was a barber for 62 years. He wasn’t just a barber. He was an entertainer. He told stories as he cut my hair. The longer his story became, the shorter my hair became.


I had a Sucrets tin in my pocket and a lozenge in my mouth. I’d been yelling encouragement. The tin that the Sucrets came in was handy to have. In the 1950s, some of the British crown jewels were housed inside a Sucrets tin while Queen Elizabeth’s crown was reset. The Boy Scouts created survival kits that fit inside a tin. I used tins as storage containers for fishhooks and coins. I remembered reading about a medicine for sore throats used in this country before 1900. It was called “Frog in the Throat” and was supposed to cure hoarseness. In the 17th century, holding a live frog in a child’s mouth until the frog died was thought to be a cure for thrush (a fungal disease of the mouth). I didn’t have a frog, so I had a lozenge in my mouth as I called time and walked from the dugout to home plate.

It didn’t seem as though the umpire was giving my team the benefit of the doubt. To my prejudiced eye, every close call went in our opponents’ favor. I hated to complain, but the ump was killing us. I was the coach. I needed to do something. I visited with the ump and hinted that he should try calling the game the same way for both teams. The man in blue took my suggestion poorly. He snarled, “You’re just upset because we’re winning.”


I walked the hallways of a giant building. I was on my way to give a talk somewhere in that complex structure. I walked on the right side of the hall. A woman walked toward me. She was on my side of the hall. Maybe she was from England. I moved to my left while at the same time, she moved to her right. I corrected my course and moved to my right just in time to meet her moving to her left. This slidewalk was a case of stranger dancing. It was a game of rock-paper-scissors in which both participants kept throwing paper. I stopped. She walked by. I wish driving a car was that easy.

A declined feline

The man from Idaho told me that he loved his home. I love where I live. He told me, for about an hour, how much he loved his home and that he never wanted to leave it again. After listening to him that long (he didn’t encourage questions or interactions of any kind), I never wanted him to leave his home again either.

Bob Frisk of New Richland told me of a traveling cat in his neighborhood. The cat was one of those that didn’t care to stay home. He had a route. Bob recounted the sad demise of this cat that had become flattened fauna on the road.

I thought I should say something proper and uplifting, so I said, “I’m sure that’s the way the cat would have wanted to go.”

Nature notes

“Do earwigs pinch people?” An earwig has a flat, reddish brown body with a pair of pincers on the tip of its abdomen that it uses for defense. The myth behind its name is that it was thought that the insect crawled into the ears of sleeping humans to feast on brains. Not true. Some people say they pinch, but I’ve never experienced that while handling them. It they do pinch, it’s not much of a squeeze. They feed primarily on decaying vegetation but may take a bite of your broccoli, beans, strawberries, or zinnias. The damage could be confused with slug feeding. Slugs leave a slime trail and earwigs do not.

Meeting adjourned

Play the kind card.

By using this website’s user-contribution features, including comments, photo galleries, or any other feature, you agree to abide by the terms of use. Please read this agreement in its entirety because it contains useful information that will help you better understand the rules and general "good manners" that are expected when contributing content to this website.

Sign in to Comment | Need help commenting? Click here

Editor's Picks