Baseball lessons from a distant locale

Umpire shares experiences from Poland
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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Editor’s note: Local baseball umpire Gary DiFabio, a longtime Little League District 54 and 11 veteran, is back on the road this week. This time he is working games at the regional tournament in Kutno, Poland and learning a lot about baseball outside the United States.

DiFabio is sharing his experiences with daily updates from the tournament.



The great American game has spread throughout the world as evidenced by the reach of Little League Baseball.


Longtime local umpire Gary DiFabio, who has called balls and strikes for all of the local leagues and in local tournament play, has been invited to do his thing in Poland this week. He is sharing his experiences as the tournament in Kutno progresses.


His day six account told the story of sportsmanship in the middle of a terrible mismatch.


“Today I only had one game and let me tell you it was one of those we all have had and wish we hadn't,” DiFabio shared in an e-mail message. “I am going to tell you how a 25-0 game is not one you want to forget.”


The contest was a win by the Czech Republic team over a severely out-manned team from Ireland. 


“The game clearly from the first pitch was one-sided,” DiFabio said.  “Czech scored nine in the top of the first and it was very clear that the Ireland team was completely overmatched.  I called as many strikes as I could but it didn't matter. The Czech boys hit the ball hard and often.” 


In a game like that, a coach is faced with a dilemma as he tries to stop his team from scoring runs when they were already playing station-to-station.


“As the game progressed it was literally possible for the Czech team to have scored 50 runs but the manager had decided that was not important and actually was having his kids swing at every pitch, ball or strike,” DiFabio said. “With the score 25-0 in the top of the fifth inning, Czech loaded the bases with no outs. The manager called timeout and talked to his batter.” 


The batter came to the plate and bunted directly in front of the plate where the catcher could pick the ball up and step on home plate for the force out and then the next two hitters did the same thing. 


“He did something that is not popular or fun but was the right thing to do,” DiFabio said in discussing the actions of the Czech Republic manager. “His fans never once groaned or complained.  This manager clearly has the right idea for his kids.”