Below is a story forwarded to us by Alan Van Ness, League President of the successful Sacramento Men’s Senior Baseball League. The story of his umpiring crew ‘giving back’ and truly making a difference is best conveyed in his own words.
Submitted by Alan Van Ness, League President, Sacramento Men’s Senior Baseball League
I would like to give national recognition to our Sacramento umpires. The RCOA, which stands for Real Cool Officials Organization LLC, has supported the SMSBL for the last 20 years. As our league grew, the umpire demand also grew. They also support High School, Junior College, and Independent Baseball. There were even a few times the local San Francisco Giants AAA affiliate, the Sacramento Rivercats, have asked for their support when issues occurred.
After the 2021 MSBL World Series the Chief Umpire Bill ‘Swanny’ Swanson asked me if I would allow the umpires to work on our two fields. He has a history of field maintenance and wanted to implement some ideas that he felt would improve our infields. The umpires paid $1,800 for 25 cubic yards of Volcanic Ash to be roto-tillered into our infield dirt. Swanny recruited many umpires to help out. The umpires in the picture below are, left to right, Bill Swanson, Greg Zoffman, Kevin Henry, Holly Abplanalp, Bill Hart, and Jerry Nolan.
After seeing an impressive improvement, our league budget paid for an additional 25 cubic yards of volcanic ash for the other field, which the umpires also worked into the infield. They were joined by SMSBL volunteers and SMSBL board member Mike Egan, who was also instrumental. Mike has the resume of building fields, most notably San Francisco Giants home ATT Park.
These umpires worked every weekend from December 11th through February 12th as weather allowed, which is most weekends in sunny Sacramento.
The reason I want to publicize this is to show the MSBL players around the country that the umpires care about MSBL baseball as much as the players do. The players do not take the field trying to drop a fly ball, throw it away, or strikeout. The umpires also do not take the field trying to miss a call, be out of position, be erratic behind the plate, or forget the count.
They may not know every rule for every different league or every level of baseball they umpire and they are not shouting at the players that they suck or are blind when the player makes the error. The umpires must have thick skins and ignore many insults that most times are not warranted. So, to see their passion for our fields and our Sacramento MSBL baseball, I would like to recognize them. I hope some of the enclosed pictures help illustrate their efforts.
We have the most beautiful baseball park in Northern California, The Army Depot Fields. The City of Sacramento and the Sacramento State University built these two fields and 20-acre park in 2019 and honored the SMSBL with a 10-year lease.
We didn’t take long to wear the fields down, as there are about 500 games per field each year. The umpire’s idea of strengthening these infields with their knowledge, money, and manpower is greatly appreciated.
Alan Van Ness