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The Village Umpire
After Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
By Ron Visco

Under a blazing summer sun
The home plate umpire stands.
The ump, a dreaded sight is he,
Not trusted by the fans.
His face is hidden by a mask,
The game is in his hands.

The pitcher's warm, the anthem's sung,
The umpire shouts, "Play ball!"
He brags aloud, "I know each rule,
I know them one and all."
But once the game is underway,
He misses every call!

A swing and miss is called a ball;
The umpire shows no doubt.
The batter fouls one in the stands;
"It's fair," they hear him shout.
A curve ball bounces on the plate;
"Strike two," he calls, "You're out!"

"He doesn't know the balls from strikes,"
The players all decree.
"He doesn't know the rules at all,"
The managers agree.
"Let's kill the ump," the fans insist,
"He's blind as he can be!"

It's now the ninth, two men are out,
The home team's one run back.
Their slugger blasts a deep flyball
As men leave every sack—
The umpire cries out "infield fly!"—
It hits the warning track.
Though two should score to win the game,
The home team gets no run.
Despite the protests and the pleas,
The visitors have won.
The ump stands firm, the call was made,
And now the game is done.

But hometown fans rush on the field;
The umpire runs too late.
He screams and hollers as they come,
But soon he meets his fate.
And now he lies just where he stood—
He's buried at home plate.


RON VISCO lives in Cooperstown, New York, and works in the education department at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This poem is dedicated to his friend, Peter Young, who received professional training as an umpire.

© 2005 Ron Visco


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