Pearls of Wisdom
026 - Alma 26 - The Altamont Mud Bog
FRIDAY, APRIL 29, 2016 - Alma 26 - The Altamont Mud Bog
Adam, yesterday I had an event happen that will always be a part of my memory banks. It was another classic moment in my life when the worst was about to happen and we made the best of the bad situation. This was always the norm for you and I when we had Scouting adventures go wrong. Or when we had service to do and we turned it into memorable fun. We can never forget you, James Herrera, and Aaron jumping the little Christmas tree in the front yard of the good sisters home on 1200 north after we gathered walnuts from her driveway to allow her safe entry into her home. Yesterday was similar.
I received the choice assignment to drive to Altamont, Utah to be the plate official in the Varsity softball game against Layton Christian Academy and the hometown Altamont girls. It has been raining and is probably still raining right now. I expected to hear the rain-out news all morning, during my drive, and once I arrived in Altamont.
Altamont? Yes, not the one in Northern California where the Hell's Angels became the body guards for the Rolling Stones and the Hell's Angels killed one of the concert goers (Google it or watch the real life documentary movie). This Altamont is far away passing through Heber, stopping to fish in Strawberry, then trying again in Starvation Reservoir, arriving in Duschense, and then turning off the main highway 40 to go north for twenty some miles to the little town of Altamont. A few years ago the Altamont team was determined, but not really developed. They have become a well oiled machine and good competition to all those teams they face. Their JV team is the same as their Varsity because the area they draw from only supports about 15 girls who want to play.
What's it take to be an Altamont girl? These young ladies are awesome. They are tough. They don't complain. And I think they could weather any of the horrific storms that Heavenly Father sees fit to throw at them. Did I mention that they don't complain? Well yesterday there was cause for everybody to complain.
Upon my arrival the clouds were dark and heavy and the rain was falling. The saving grace is that there was no wind. What? Altamont with no wind? Altamont is known for its constant wind. I drove by the field to see the Altamont girls in right loosening up. The Layton Christian Academy bus was near their dugout and they were just getting out into the bad weather. The field is all dirt and I could see that it was a mess. There was a mud bog around third and home plate could not even be seen. The stripes were in place from about 6 feet outside the batter's box down on out to the home run fence, but there was no batter's box laid out.
I got out of my car and started to gear up for the plate. I was half dressed when my partner Mike Davis, from Vernal, arrived. Mike is the fun, pleasant, and well demeanored type of umpire that you want to go through an experience like this with. We geared up knowing that this was going to be an adventure. The conditions were miserable. The field was muddy. And we had both driven quite a ways for what was sure to be a cancelled game.
The disposition of the school officials was that they wanted to get in at least one game. They had seen a horrible weather season and this was the girl's Senior Day. The Layton Christian Academy coach was most concerned with the weather and did not want to see a girl twist her ankle, but also wanted to get in a game. At the coaches meeting, which could not be held in the muck near home plate, was unlike any I have ever conducted...
"All right coaches, so what would you like to accomplish today?", I asked.
And with that, we determined that we would try to play. Anything close to the strike zone would be swung at. Any base nearly touched would be considered safe. And any time the misery quotient became intolerable the game would be called by either team. And with that, we said "Play Ball!"
Layton came up and their batters were not thrilled to be there. They were less impressed with the ball coming at them and the first three outs signaled that this was not going to be much fun, but we continued. The Layton pitcher took the mound with a wet ball and did her best. She took over that spot after their pitcher quit the team a couple of weeks prior. Layton only had 9 players and their uniforms started the day pristine white. While the pitcher loosened up I walked over by the Altamont girls warming up and said, "Girls, I want to see some slides.... Face first like this!" And I ran a few steps and mimicked a full on face first slide. They laughed and I was not sure what would ultimately come of this game.
I took my spot behind where I thought home plate should be and called to the on deck batter. This energetic lead off batter came running over and said, "I love the mud!" as she dug into the muck to prepare for a pitch. The first pitch came 8 inches inside belt high and I yelled "Strike!" She looked at me with one of those "If looks could kill I'd be lying on the floor" type of looks. I reminded her that anything close was a strike and that she should hit the ball and run. Well she smacked the ball in a line drive to the outfield and took off running. She round first and then second while the ball was being fielded. I made my way down the third base line and watched a thing of beauty. This girl rounded second and full speed ran to third with a diving head first slide that had her flying several feet through the air before hitting the mud and then sliding like a penguin on the ice. Mud was everywhere and she came safely into the base and sprang to her feet. She was covered in mud with the biggest smile on her face. I was hooting and hollering my approval for her feat. Fans cheered. Car horns sounded off. And the Layton team looked on in utter shock and amazement. The disposition of everybody on the field changed in that one very moment. This Altamont lead-off hitter changed the outcome of what was destined to be the most miserable couple of hours of our lives to one of the most fun memories any of us will ever experience.
Not to be outdone, the second batter came up and heard my warning, "Anything close is a strike, so hit away!" She took another pitch to the outfield and with similar gusto and enthusiasm repeated the face first slide scenario. We continued with hits, runs, and face first slides at third and home plate. It was an incredible display of fun by girls who had been raised to make the best out of what life offers you. These are the type of girls I want my sons to marry. A girl that face first slides into the third when any sane person would be safely under an umbrella looking for shelter.
When the sixth run came across home plate I called for the teams to rotate. There was not yet an out and we had to get to the third inning to be an official game. The Layton coach was fine with my decision so that his girls could have some more fun batting. The Altamont coach immediately was concerned that we could not do that in a Varsity game. I looked at her at giggled. "Seriously coach, take a look around. The six run rule is completely appropriate given these conditions." My partner Mike backed my decision up completely with rule and verse regarding rule modification decisions on our part based upon weather and other conditions. And with that, we played on. Layton had a little action because of walks and unplayable balls due to the rain and mud. They had a runner on third and she was caught in a pickle because she had left the safety of third towards home and after making it through the 10 feet of mud near the base the catcher threw back and it was near impossible to turn back to third and make any progress. She was stuck in a bad situation for the third out of their half of the inning.
Altamont came back up and got either 5 or 6 runs in the same manner as the first inning. The difference was that Layton had now accepted that things were getting muddy and they actually were starting to enjoy the fun. Slides were prevalent and all but two of the Altamont girls were a muddy mess.
The third inning we witnessed two of the Layton girls with head first slides. One was into third and another at home. I doubt that their uniforms will ever be as white again, but I know that they will always remember those slides into the bases. Altamont thought that they had a girl dead to rights at home plate, but the Layton player's hand just beat the tag as she dove for home. She was safe, much to the 23 other officials sitting in the Altamont bleachers who thought that the plate official botched the call. Don't tell anyone, but even if she would have been out, in those conditions, and with that slide in the mud, she would have got my same enthusiastic "Safe" call.
The last half of the third inning needed to get the Altamont team over the 15 runs ahead so that the mercy run rule could be invoked, but we forgot all about the score as the mud bog sliding continued. When it was 18-1 it finally dawned on us and we called the game. This event never would have been possible in a high school game. Anywhere else, and teams would have been appalled at the thought of playing in those conditions. And any other officials never would have allowed these life long memories to have been made. We had the perfect storm, with the perfect teams, in the perfect locale, under the perfect conditions, to make a memorable afternoon that none of us will ever forget. What an incredible adventure!
Now take a look at Alma 26 in verses 6 and 7...
6 Yea, they shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them.
7 But behold, they are in the hands of the Lord of the harvest, and they are his; and he will raise them up at the last day.
Somehow I can easily morph those words to apply to our game in Altamont. When life is tough, the Lord will raise up his righteous to become victorious over the rough conditions placed before them. Or in other words, to survive the Altamont Mud Bog!
PLEASE READ THE CHAPTER NOW
I hope that you continue to create and enjoy similar experiences throughout your life. These events cannot be staged. They cannot be planned and prepared. instead, you must be on the lookout for ways to make the best of some pretty sour lemons by creating some incredible lemonade.
Make it a great day!