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May 23, 2018
BY BRUCE CRAWFORD - Staff Writer ( , Wetzel Chronicle

I finally umpired my last official softball game, and it was everything I wanted and more. When I officiated basketball for more than 20 seasons, I didn't get to go out like I wanted, as well as coaching volleyball and basketball.

It was in the Region I Class A championship game between St. Marys and Wheeling Central. We finished up the first game that was rained out the night before in St. Marys. Central won with their pitcher tossing a perfect five-inning game. The second game was somewhat the same kind of game, but the Blue Devils fought hard and made some nice defensive plays, as well as getting some base runners on.

The Knights won that game too, and will be heading to the state championship next week in Vienna. I worked with three other Mid-Ohio Valley officials and had a blast. The players on the field were awesome talking with me, as well as getting congrats from the coaches and a few spectators that knew it was my last game.

My fellow officials did an outstanding game, and I was happy to be part of it. I had a few calls to make at second, but that was okay.

After the game we went to TJ's Sports Garden and celebrated my last official game. It was a good run; I did several sectional games, as well as regional games throughout my softball career, but this was special because I left on my own terms.

I had always wanted to finish my basketball refereeing when I wanted to hang it up. I didn't, as I had both my knees replaced and couldn't get to referee that last game. The same went for coaching girls soccer and girls basketball. However, I have always enjoyed my time with the athletes that I had the opportunity to coach. Just like Coaches Schneid and Swords, I had many great athletes that I had the pleasure to coach, and I want to thank each and every one of them, including their parents.

Coaching and officiating high school sports isn't everyone's "cup of tea," and having done them both, I can say we see all types of things - good and bad. We all don't do it for the money; we do it, because we love what we do.

By being a softball umpire for these last 17 years, I have seen both sides, as well as a fan and parent, as well as a sports writer.


While traveling to St. Marys for my regional softball game, I saw a father take off his jacket and try to cover up his son from getting wet, "as it was raining cats and dogs" as the little boy was getting off the bus. It warmed my heart when I see someone do something nice for someone else.

Random and spontaneous acts of kindness are things I love to see and hear about. Our New Martinsville Police Department is always doing something good, not only in New Martinsville, but everywhere they go. They don't always look to help; it's in their blood. I can name numerous random acts of kindness, some people don't know about. That's just how our police are. They care, not just for children, but for the elderly, and everyday people like you and me.

And... this one will tug your heart. It did mine. My wife Lynne is a RN, and after her shift was ending, she stayed with one of her patients, because the patient wasn't going to live much longer and had no family there with her.

Lynne wasn't going to let the lady die with no family around her. That's love.

Acts of kindness are also a big thing to me in sports, and I would like to tell a few of them that I have seen just this season. In a mismatched game where the game was out of hand, a coach told me to watch his players closely, because they were going to leave a bit early before a pitch was thrown to give the other team an out, and give that team a chance to bat. I did and called the runner out.

Not only did the coach do an act of kindness, so did the player. You see that quite often in high school softball when a team ahead sees the other team struggling to get an out - not enough in baseball. You also can in track. I see players from opposing teams help hold the blocks for a player from another school. I also see quite often players helping players up after giving it their all and are physically drained, as well as coaches pitching in at meets to help the home team.

I also see coaches and players alike, giving opposing athletes congrats - win or lose, a pat on the back, or saying good job.

People coming to watch a game or an athletic contest, move over for people to see. Or, opening a door for a lady or elderly people.

I've seen them all, and I can say there are more acts of kindness out there in the world than not, and I'm tickled to death that there are still very good people out there doing acts of kindness.

During the Blue Eagles' victory over Tyler Consolidated, Magnolia catcher Will Nice helped up a Tyler player up who just slid in safely at home. Another example of kindness was a Blue Eagle fan who gave up his body to save a young girl, in a stroller, and her mother from getting hit from a foul ball - all good acts of kindness at a ball game.

My sister, Sheila Estep, and my brother, Bobby, and I bought a bench to honor our parents Bob Crawford and Darlene McCracken, to be put aside Lewis Wetzel Park's new and improved swimming pool. We didn't do it to be recognized; we did it to honor our parents. I know there has been many other benches donated to the high schools, parks throughout Wetzel County and across the river at the walking path at the dam in Hannibal.

This is great, and I hope others can do the same and contribute toward more benches, trees, and flowers throughout to spruce up our parks. It's a wonderful act of kindness. If anyone would like to donate to the NM Parks and Recreation, contact Park Director Bev Gibb at the city building.

Other acts of kindness I have seen: Many, many Paden City residents helping the city park ball fields and park get spruced up. This hasn't gone unnoticed; good job. The same can be said in Hundred, where many people have come together and helped spruce up their little league ball field. It's looking great!

Speaking of Hundred, there will be a July 4th celebration at Hundred once more on Saturday, June 30. This is always one of the best July 4th celebrations I have had the pleasure to attend. There will also be Arts In The Park in New Martinsville on July 4 starting at 1 and ending at 4 p.m. with loads of stuff going on. Please read our paper for all the July 4th information and plan to attend.

Pine Grove may also have a celebration too, so please look for details from the Wetzel Chronicle.



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