From Home Plate Day 11 – VOB Series Finale – Umpire Robert Slabinski

Jan 6: SERIES FINALE!! Game time 7:00 PM, under the lights at VOB. Throw away the series record, each team has their best ready to play. But first the day… We awoke to an overcast day. The German team hung around the campground all day, resting, relaxing and preparing for this epic final. The Eden team was provided additional training. This has become routine, on off days for either Mark Moore or the German coach to work with the Eden boys. Their work has not gone unnoticed, I have seen vast improvements in their game. By 3:00 PM, it was time to assemble everyone and start the drive to VOB, about a 30 minute drive. Once at the ballpark, they cooked a late lunch for all of the players consisting of African Sausage, chicken and sandwiches. A FEAST.

 By game time, the fans had started to arrive, started to ring the field. VOB has lights, an outfield fence and a snack bar. A beautiful place for the finale. In centerfield, Table Mountain was hidden by cloud cover. In the top of the first, with “Tex” on the mound for Deutsche Baseball Academy (DBA), he retired the Pole-2-Pole (P2P) team 1-2-3. Hasn’t been a lot of these innings in the series. Tex is, as you might guess is from Texas but playing for DBA, a flamethrower!!! In the bottom of the first, the P2P team made too many errors and mistakes and gave up 6 runs. The game would never be close. Tex threw 4 strong innings and their closer tossed the last 3. Final score was 15 – 1 in favor of DBA. We played 6.5 innings in just over 2.5 hours, attendance was estimated to be 276. The score may seem a bit lopsided, but it was still a very enjoyable game. The P2P team simply made too many errors and mistakes, otherwise this game could have been so much closer, also the entire series. Speaking of the series, DBA took the series 7 – 2. I firmly believe that the P2P kids as well as the Eden boys got so much better and gained so much more experience.

On the plate was Bob, at 1st was Geno, at 2nd was Denver and at 3rd was Albert. The umpires were provided special shirts for the game compliments of Bob. They were wearing the blue camouflage shirts, very nice! In the first inning, with a deep ball to the outfield, we saw a spectacular 4 man rotation with Geno moving down the line to cover the plate. Bob was so proud that the crew had bonded so well and become so comfortable with each other, that everyone knew what to do, the umpire ballet, magnificent. We actually saw this rotation a total of 3 times in the game. We also had numerous other rotations where Albert covered 2nd and Bob rotated to 3rd. The crew was on top of their game! We even had a couple of close fair – foul calls where the crew clearly remembered the “pain of glass”. Bob did have a little trouble seeing the ball properly in the 7th inning. Tears were starting to form in his eyes. He had such a wonderful time the past 2 weeks calling ballgames in South Africa!

After the game, everyone retired to the snack bar to feast on leftovers and partake in some adult beverages. Farewells, handshakes and hugs were given to one another, to our new found friends. Bob has 2 more days to SEE Capetown and then back to home, back to his family!

Time to hand out some thanks…..

Fun Facts: Bob got to meet the president of South African baseball. He personally thanked him for coming over and working individually with the umpires. He even noticed the in-game training that was provided to umpire Vladimir during one of the games. He would like to explore running actual clinics next year for large groups of umpires, if Bob will come back.

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