Where Was It Blue?


By Ken Enderley

Retransmitted courtesy of bobtheumpire.com

The “Roaring Twenties 2.0.” Or 2.1 as in the 21st century I should say.  As a matter of fact my friend’s daughter’s Sweet Sixteen had a “Great Gatsby” theme. Our families wore zoot suits and flapper dresses. Cool stuff. That was in September of 2019. The ensuing Holiday Season was enjoyed with family and friends. New Year’s Eve had its gala celebrations as we eagerly awaited the “Ball Drop” to welcome in the new decade.


The Super Bowl, now held on the first Sunday in February, usually gets the umpire season started here in the northeast. Most associations will book the date for their first meeting of the year. This is to collect dues from their returning umpires and from potential new umpire candidates. I was encouraged to join the association of a mentor and friend of mine. This way I could officiate high school baseball games in New York. So that Super Bowl Sunday morning I carpooled with Stu and Jimmy, both veterans of the association. You could actually do that without a mask at the time. The new candidate drove. There were at least a hundred umpires at this meeting. My new umpire candidate class of 2020 had a total of six new “rookies”.

The man in charge instructed us to pick out a uniform number (1 to 99). There were some numbers that were “retired”. I respect that. The numbers that I was interested in were taken. Stu had 59 (year I was born) and Jimmy number 27 (Yankee fans know the significance of that number). 36 (Jerry Koosman) and 21 (Cleon Jones) both boyhood idols of mine were already assigned. Yes, I am a Mets fan.


The number that I chose had nothing to do with the Mets. Remember it was Super Bowl Sunday. Number 72 jumped off the sheet at me. That was the year I became a 49ers fan. Hey, the Niners were in the big game, but that’s a different blog. LOL!  So I have my umpire number.

During a break we all rushed over to the umpire who sells the association’s umpire hats. What size do you wear? 7 5/8? Nope, too big. 7 ½? Too small. OK 7 3/8? AH! Just right. Then there’s the guy, usually not an umpire, who sells the association’s uniform items for a “fair price”. Well, now you need an umpire shirt(s). He’ll even put your new number on the right sleeve. And don’t forget to purchase that lined umpire jacket (with the number on it too) because it’s freaking cold in March. ‘What else do you need kid”. Imagine that. Another adult calling me “kid”. My three wonderful young adult kids call me “OLD”. HA-HA. Not today! 


Next item on the agenda? Filling out paperwork which must be submitted to the NYC school board by you. Then must get fingerprinted and await the bureaucratic red tape that is involved getting vetted to officiate high school games.  Last but not least, the association’s umpire test is due by March 1st. Had my brand new, love the smell of a new book, NFHS rule book to interpret the questions. I passed!

A rules interpretation meeting/clinic was held on a Monday in early March in a high school gym. Bring your umpire mask. The pitcher and catcher liked my strike zone. Clinician did too but instructed me to slow my calls down. Work on my timing. Thought I was doing that. Pause, read, pause, react!  

The high school season was to start in mid-March. I was anticipating the start of the season. I was getting excited and then, BAM! The umpiring world, along with the rest of society, was shut down when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared covid-19 a global pandemic on March 11th. The high school baseball season never happened this year. What a punch in the gut!

Ken Enderley began umpiring when he was thirteen years old. He’s been a volunteer LL umpire, since 2001, in Rockland County, NY and joined the Rockland ASA chapter in 2006. His continuing knowledge of baseball and softball rules as well as umpire mechanics has enabled him to teach both adult and youth umpires. Ken is currently Co-Director of the Lower Hudson Valley Umpire Association. You can follow them on Instagram at lhvua.