I wrote at length about the annual Artists & Writers softball game played in East Hampton last week, which the Artists won 10 to 8. Numerous notables were in attendance, including President Bill Clinton. And I wrote that the President had umpired the first inning, calling balls and strikes from behind the mound.
Indeed, I have read elsewhere since the game that he actually umpired two innings, and the difference doesn’t matter really, but when I wrote the account that it had only been one inning, I was relying on what I saw with my own eyes. He said he’d be willing to ump for one inning. He went out and did one inning. Then he left and others, including myself, umped for the rest of the game. I even wrote my editor at Dan’s about the discrepancy—yes, I am edited—and that others were wrong. But it turns out they were right.
As a reporter, it is disconcerting to see something with your own eyes and find out it is wrong. So I have thought about it. Yes, he said he’d ump for an inning. He came out to the pitcher’s mound and was given the ball. Since I had been out there to ump the first inning, which I have done for the past 20 years, I observed all this, left the mound and went over to watch him from first base.
I took pictures of the president doing his inning for a while. Then somebody came over to talk to me, then I went behind the backstop to talk to the announcers, then I went over to talk to Keith Kelly from The New York Post, then I went to the men’s bathroom building just off the third base side, then I went out to the parking lot to get a bottle of water I had left in my car, then I checked to see if John Papa’s Café had gotten that week’s issue of Dan’s Papers (which they had), then I thought the inning might be up and so returned to the field just as Clinton was working with two strikes and two outs toward the end of what I thought must still be the first inning.
Lief Hope came over and said I should get ready to ump at the end of this inning. And so, after the inning I went out, the president walked off the field and I went in, umped a few more innings and then was replaced by another umpire, Claude Beudert, who said he’d coached my daughter when she was in high school years ago. She was on the men’s wrestling team. I have the team picture. But that’s another story.
But here’s the thing. At the time I went in to ump the second inning, I have since been told, it was actually the third inning. So this is that correction.
You can’t believe everything you see.
I guess that’s why umpires are said to be blind—except for the president, who sees well and works very fast.