Making the calls for 34 years

Published 9:08 pm Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Philip Chaney’s umpired adult and youth baseball in and around Suffolk for the last 34 years, starting when he was 15 years old. Chaney graduated from Forest Glen High School and Forest Glen’s one of the many fields he’s called games at.

Special to the News-Herald

WINDSOR — Philip Chaney once umpired 13 baseball games in one day, but doesn’t remember the number of players he called out.

“I’m sure there were hundreds,” said Chaney, who has been making calls on the diamond for 34 years.

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“Seems like I’ve been called a few names I can’t repeat, too,” he said. “But I love what I’m doing. I’ve been doing it for a long time, and if God’s willing, I’ll be back next year.”

Chaney started umpiring when he was 15. Born with cerebral palsy, he developed diabetes when he was 12. He played baseball until his leg bothered him too much to continue.

“I loved the game so much, though, I wanted to be involved in some way,” the 49-year-old said. “My dad used to coach a men’s team at the Suffolk Moose Lodge, and I had played around the ball field as a kid. When I was six, they let me be the bat boy.”

“Anyway, I took some classes in umpiring, passed the test and that’s how it all began,” he continued.

Chaney, who lives with his sister, Diane Walker in Windsor, started umpiring baseball games at Forest Glen High School in Suffolk, when he was a student. As he grew, so did the number of games he umpired.

Chaney moved to the Cypress ball park in the Suffolk area, working mostly with the youth leagues.

“I’ve worked with them all, Pony, Mustang, Bronco, Colt, where ever I’m needed,” he said.

Chaney has worked with adult teams, but is somewhat partial to the youth.

“I love a challenge, and some of these kids work so hard,” he said. “It does your heart good just to watch them.”

Chaney has umpired games at most local schools including Carrsville, Holland, King’s Fork, Windsor, Wakefield, Sedley and Smithfield. He works with an umpire’s group out of Smithfield.

“They keep a roster and assign us to the games in the area,” Chaney said.

There were a few tough calls.

“I once threw my own brother out of a game,” Chaney said. “This was a men’s game, and my brother, Andy, was playing first base. He was a good player, I’ll have to say, but he had a bit of a temper.”

“Well, when a man on the other team tagged first base, I called him safe,” Chaney continued. “My brother didn’t agree and cursed at me. I sent him to the dugout. He apologized to me after he had cooled down.”

Chaney has umpired games involving his nephews and daughter, Amy.

“If they do something wrong, they have to be taken out,” Chaney said. “I took Amy out of a tournament game once. I was coaching this game, which I sometimes did. She didn’t like it, but she was acting up and it had to be done.”

He is now umpiring games in which the children of some of his earlier players participate.

“And some of these parents are quite protective of their children,” Chaney said. “One time, a mother saw her son fall as he was running to a base, and she ran out on the field and insisted that I call timeout until he could complete his run.”

“It took a while for me to explain the rules to her, but she finally understood,” he continued.

Chaney has received several plaques for his work, some from leagues and some from parents.

He will continue to umpire despite heart problems.

“I’m not happy unless I’m on the ball field,” Chaney said. “I’m going to work as long as I’m able.”