From Home Plate Day 4 – Van Der Stel – Umpire Robert Slabinski

Dec 30: Ahhhh, morning in South Africa!! We have been greeted with an incredible morning, sunny and a breeze, when the breeze dies down, it is hot. Audrey, who is our lead cook, has prepared us an awesome breakfast, scrambled eggs, sausage and bread. Talk about a delicious meal.

This morning we are hanging out at the camp. Mark Moore, the organizer, is giving the team from Eden a lesson in leading off from first, afterwards the German coach is seen working with the Eden pitching staff. An awesome display of leadership, helping the kids learn the game better. On the other side of the meadow, away from the player training, we have Bob from the US working with Vladamir, a coach / umpire from Eden. Bob’s training from the Western Region Little League staff will come in handy…. From the beginning!!! They are going over the basic 6, the slot position and other things. This will be a crash course as Vladimir will begin working more games. Vladimir worked last night’s game at first and did a good job, with a little more training and on the field training, he will leave here an experienced umpire. By early afternoon, BUG OUT!!!

We traveled about 90 miles to the ballpark, we are showcasing this series by traveling everyday. And speaking of 
traveling, when it is time to move, we have cars, SUVs and trailers, what a sight to behold. The ballfield was actually a rugby field converted to a diamond. We had a cutout for home plate and a pitcher’s mound. Other than that we had grass every where. As for the outfield, no fence, but it was clearly marked for home runs and ground rule doubles. In left center and right enter, we had tall light towers. For the dugouts, there were canopies to keep the sun off of the players. Truly a sight, a fully functioning ballfield in the middle of the rugby field. Oh yeah, behind the outfield was a breathtaking view of the mountains. This is a view that I will remember a long time, MAGNIFICENT.
   In the first game it was Eden vs Pole-2-Pole II. Not much of a contest, final score 25 – 8, victory to Pole-2-Pole II. The kids from Eden are a bit overmatched, but they all have heart. Part of the reason for this trip for Eden is to get some good instruction and experience. I firmly believe they are getting both. We saw “Denver” on the plate and 2 local gentlemen from the baseball club helping out on the bases. Denver’s strike zone started a bit tight but he QUICKLY realized the way of the game and opened it up, well done Denver.
In the nightcap under the lights, once again it is Deustche Baseball Academy (DBA) vs Pole-2-Pole (P2P). DBA is leading the series 2 games to 1. The game was FANTASTIC. Great plays by both teams and some nice hits. We even had a tremendous play where the P2P first baseman turned, went out on a soft pop up, fielded it on 1 hop and gunned the ball to second for a force out. Wish I had this on video, it could have made a Sportscenter Webgem.

Final score was DBA 5, P2P 4. This was a game where it hurt to lose because both teams played so well. On the plate was Bob, at first was Vladimir showcasing his newly found training, at second was Denver who was directing the base umps and at third was a local gentlemen from the baseball club. Another outstanding effort by all of the umpires. I believe every call was SPOT ON CORRECT.
As the game ended, the tents were being assembled down the right field line. Some of the kids will spend the night sleeping in tents or UNDER THE STARS. I got out of my uniform and made a beeline under the stadium to the snack bar / bar for some refreshmens. I got a chance to talk with some locals!! Afterwards, I made the drive back to the campground to sleep in the equipment room. This room is my HOME and I am loving it. A bed, a pillow and a hot shower, life is GRAND!!! On New Years Eve day, we will be playing a single game, early so we can get back and be ready to ring in 2017!!!!!!
Fun Fact: In the middle of no where a pirate ship arose from the ground. WTH? This is the set of the cable television show called “Black Sails”. I have watched this show numerous times, go figure!
Stanley Moment: I got to chat with the bartender at the field. He was in the African military and as a 19 year old he met his wife who was 18. They have now been married for 46 years, they have children and grandchildren. A really nice guy, a lifelong friend.

Leave a Reply