The book came up in conversation and the book was lent to me. I even put other things on hold to read this one.
So why was it so fascinating to me? I think because I grew up in a very male household: grandfather, father, and two brothers. One of my earliest memories are watching sports with my grandfather and playing sports with my brothers. Give me a room full of guys talking about last night's game, and I'll still feel at home--even if I don't follow sports myself anymore.
Back to the point, not once as a kid did we ever talk about umpires. And I just realized how strange that was. I realized I knew nothing about the topic of umpires.
But a few dozen pages into the book I started asking myself: "Why would anyone want to be an umpire?" It's a job where you are always on the outskirts or you're invisible; you never belong. The most you can ask for is silence. People not yelling at you is a good day.
I never really did answer that question. I suppose like all things there are people out there who love it. They would do it whether or not they get paid. They just love doing it. And really, you should try to do what you love. If you are fortunate to be one of those who can figure out what that thing is.
Oh, and the author of this book wrote the most poetic thing about sports I have ever read. Here it is: "The umpires…are neither inside the game as the players are, nor outside it among the fans, but the game passes through you, like rainwater through a filter, and that your job is to influence it for the better, to strain out the impurities to make it cleaner, fairer, and more transparent, without impeding it, corrupting it, changing its course, or making it taste funny."