Editor’s Note – This is the second and final part of a column that began in this space one week ago.
When we last left off I had had a rule book smack me in the back of my head, been choked and punched, then had the police call me after arriving at home following a ballpark incident many years ago when I was an adult slo-pitch softball umpire.
To get to the point, the police basically gave me a call to ask for my translation of what all happened that night. That was because after it happened, the coach of the team that caused the ruckus and was choking me when a buddy of mine punched the coach to get him off me went to the police department and tried to file charges against my buddy. Never mind that the coach had hit, clawed and scratched my buddy, not to mention tearing his shirt to shreds, after the one and only time my buddy punched him.
So, I told the cops that if the coach was filing charges against my buddy, I’d be filing charges against the coach. The charges against my buddy we’re quickly dropped.
You would think the story ended there, but it didn’t.
I was the treasurer for what was called the Hillsboro Softball Association at the time and in April, long before the ruckus broke out, the coach gave me two checks – one for the women’s team he had in our leagues and one for a men’s team he had in the leagues – totaling about $600. But he asked me not to cash them, and even put a note to that affect on the checks, until June 1.
Well, the ruckus broke out in the first week of June, so the next day I marched to the bank to cash the coach’s checks.
“Jeff,” a teller told me, “this account was closed last December.”
As you might imagine, that didn’t settle very well with me. So I decided to take the coach to court.
The details are a bit hazy now, but as I remember it, when we showed up in court on the appointed day – in a room located directly behind the office where I now work – it went something like this: The judge explained some of the details then said he was going to let us both tell our stories about the checks. The judge called the coach before him and the coach told his story. Then judge called me before him and I told my story.
The judge considered our stories briefly, then called the coach back before him. He told the coach that he had a very short amount of time to get the ball park’s money to me, or the coach could report directly to jail. The coach delivered the money to me very shortly thereafter.
Now, you might be thinking again that this is where the story ends. But you would be wrong.
The coach and I had another run-in or two, but then a few years passed. Before long I had a son that was a fairly decent basketball player, and the old softball coach was now a youth basketball coach who usually got most of the best players to play on his teams. Somehow or other my son must have been asked to play on the coach’s team, because he came home one day and asked if he could play for the coach on a team that many of his friends played on. My wife and I decided to let our son give it a try.
My son’s next three or more years of youth basketball were memorable ones. He got to play lots of basketball, often in two leagues at the same time, and we traveled with the team all over, even to a tournament as far away as Cleveland.
It may have helped that my son was one of, if not the best, players the coach had at the time. But over those three or so years I never had a single problem with the coach. He treated my son royally. And my son became a better basketball player because of the opportunities the coach offered him.
You see, as most of us age, we transform a bit. Because we have past experiences to draw on, we mature and mellow. And if we have much sense at all, we let bygones be bygones, because life is too short not to.
Just so you know, I have known the coach pretty much my whole life. We have played ball with and against each other, and have rooted for each others’ siblings and children. There have been some times that were not so good. There have been many more that were really good.
It’s possible that I’ll see the coach again this winter. It’s possible that, once again, he’ll be a coach and I’ll be officiating his team’s game.
If that happens, I hope that when we approach each other we’ll laugh about the rough times, remember some of the good ones, and head down a new road. Because that’s the way it should be.
See ‘ya around coach.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.