Neighbors cry foul over OPRF umpires' costume change

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Marty Farmer

Contributing Reporter

The life of a baseball umpire can be tough at times. Whether it's being questioned — loudly — by a coach, player or fan about the strike zone, or taking a foul ball or errant throw off an undesirable portion of the anatomy, or just having a generally rough day at the office, a certain amount of respect, perhaps even a touch of empathy, should be afforded the thankless task of umpiring.

The men (and women) in blue are an essential element and must exercise good judgment between the lines of a baseball field. Like all effective sports officials, the best umpires go unnoticed.

Unfortunately, some umpires have been a little too visible, according to homeowners who live on Linden Avenue and Ontario Street.

Reportedly, they have elected to change into their game gear on the streets adjacent to OPRF before a ballgame. The unwelcome and allegedly unsightly "quick change" maneuver has aroused protestations of a different sort.

In other words, "Umpires Gone Wild" is probably not a reality show spectators are eager to see.

One local shutterbug photographed one of the offenders from a second-floor apartment. All that was missing was a feather boa and David Rose's signature melody, "The Stripper," blaring in the background.

Make no mistake, the undressing of umpires is a serious and recurring issue that needs to be addressed, and OPRF athletic director John Steltzer has acted swiftly and spoken with the West Suburban Conference baseball umpire assignment chair, who in turn has notified the umpires that using the streets as a locker room is unacceptable. Last season, the issue was also addressed and rectified. This spring, a reminder about "changing clothes in private" was evidently required.

The assignor concluded his e-mail reminder with the following: "Please help out and dress in the locker room provided. If you have any questions, please let me know."


The school has made the Oak Park Stadium football locker room available for baseball officials to change clothes. Hopefully this will resolve any questions about where to put on one's Fruit of the Looms.

Spring weather is finally showing signs of coming around after a brutal patch of rainy, windy and overcast conditions. Attention can now turn back to the baseball field where Chris Ledbetter's Huskies are gearing up for another state title run.

As for the umpires who will call OPRF games the rest of the season, your work is valuable and appreciated. When you bellow "Play Ball," it's music to every baseball fan's ears.

Even the neighbors, who like you much better in blue than white.

Reader Comments

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Greg from Coarsegold  

Posted: May 7th, 2013 10:09 AM

Get a life. Umpires in their underwear are much more discreet than most swimmers in bathing suits. A water polo player or swimmer is a lot worse than an umpire. Unless guys are standing out there and walking around or stripping down completely naked or something, leave them alone. Most locker rooms are nowhere near the baseball fields and there is typically no place to secure gear in a locker room. These people must be bored to death.

Matt on Madison  

Posted: May 7th, 2013 9:25 AM

What a stupid story, there stripping down to there boxers for a second. And the other option is to walk a block into the school. No worse then the pool. These residents are crazy.

Ed Newbegin from Concord  

Posted: May 7th, 2013 8:26 AM

We don't look forward to having to change clothes in the street, but if private areas are not provided there is simply no choice. The vast majority of game site locations for youth, high school, and college ball below the D II level give no thought to this issue. We are expected to be at the games early and change wherever we can find parking. We try to be discrete but if a neighbor wants to film us from a second-story window instead of going about his business there isn't much that can be done.

Bruce M from Woodstock Valley  

Posted: May 7th, 2013 7:37 AM

I can almost guarantee no one is getting naked out there. I where boxer briefs with a pair of longer sliding shorts over them. You see more skin with a bathing suit. If it were me, I'd be looking for a more accommodating league with neighbors who display more common decency and common sense.

Perry Barber from New York  

Posted: May 3rd, 2013 11:03 PM

High school and college umpires aren't always provided with decent changing facilities, so we make do with our cars or secluded areas to change into and out of our gear. If OPRF is so concerned about this problem, it should ensure that safe, clean facilities are made available to the umpires close enough so that it's not a five mile walk between the locker room and the field. Most umpires would PREFER to change in private over public displays of nudity, but we aren't always offered that luxury.

Dave from Oak Park  

Posted: May 3rd, 2013 4:07 PM

Thanks for giving some press to this! Living near the high school is a mixed blessing and it has been frustrating to have to repeat our requests for common decency year after year after year. Maybe this will improve the issue!

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