Balls, strikes and beers: a father-son umpiring crew saw 4 gritty stars rise in Detroit sandlots

By Glenn Forbes Bunting in the Los Angeles Times:

This is a personal narrative that takes on special significance as my 87-year-old dad labors through the final innings of life. It is the story of how sandlot baseball connected a father and son to four awkward teenagers growing up in gritty, sports-crazed small towns that worshiped the automobile, alcohol and our beloved Detroit Tigers.

In the 1970s, American Legion ball around Detroit attracted the very best players age 19 and under — along with college and pro scouts who perched in the stands behind home plate.

As a two-man umpiring crew, my father and I always had each other’s back. Before instant replay, being an umpire meant never admitting you were wrong — even if, deep down, one of us knew the other had blown a call.

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