Good news for sports officials…for a change

I spent 25 years umpiring amateur baseball, and it wasn’t always easy to smile.

I am an avid consumer of the news. As a former reporter in both television and print, I just can’t help myself. As you might expect, lately this predilection has me looking for antidepressants. It’s almost impossible to open the paper or surf the Internet without getting upset with all the craziness.

But then, two recent stories had me almost giddy with joy. Both articles had to do with sports officiating, a subject dear to me, something I’ve mentioned on many occasions. You see, I spent 40 years of my life calling games, mostly football and baseball, but also ice hockey, soccer, and basketball. Officiating was such a big part of my world, that now, three years after I hung up my white hat and whistle, my gear still hangs in my closet. The same with my baseball uniform, even though I haven’t donned those shin guards or chest protector in about ten years. Somehow, I just can’t part with them.

Despite no longer being an arbiter, I pay attention to news concerning my officiating brethren. Many people understand that this avocation comes with certain conditions. First, nobody likes us. Ever! They might pretend, especially after a call goes their way, but as soon as they think we’ve erred, their real feelings spill onto the field. That a thick skin is required in officiating is obvious. And if one seeks adulation and attaboys then they need to pick a different job, because rarely does anyone slap an ump on the back and say, “Great game, Blue!”

Major League Baseball’s Pat Hoberg has the best record as a ball-and-strike umpire so far this year.

I mention this because of a recent headline that had me falling out of my chair: “Why you’ve never heard of MLB’s most accurate ump.” The USA Today article discussed 35-year-old Pat Hoberg, the highest rated home-plate umpire in Major League Baseball. According to Umpire Scorecards, Hoberg has a 96.4% accuracy rate on balls and strikes. Imagine that! While many fans work hard to denigrate the “men in blue”, Umpire Scorecards is showing just how good some of them are. In fact, four other Major League Umpires ranked right up there with Hoberg, so maybe it’s time we said something like, you know, “Attaboy, guys!

France’s Stéphanie Frappart is one of three women assigned to referee in this years World Cup.

I know praising an umpire feels awkward on the tongue, but even a small compliment might go a long way toward alleviating the problems caused by the hordes of officials now leaving the game. So, maybe give it a try.

The second story concerned soccer. FIFA announced the names of 36 referees that will be working this year’s World Cup, that begins November 21 in Qatar. For the first time ever, three woman have been picked to call games. Stunning, I know. Even though women have been playing soccer probably as long as men, the idea that a woman could officiate a big game—as surely all World Cup contests are—didn’t strike the FIFA bosses until, well, now.

So let’s hear it for the men and women who make it possible for you to enjoy the games you love. Because, remember, without the ref it’s only recess.

The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.


Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.


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