August 20, 2015 —
By Bill Mullaly
Pat McCabe, of Hudson, was in Cooperstown during August. One might think that he was there as a tourist but that was not the case for the dedicated local youth baseball umpire who was there to umpire baseball games. McCabe had heard a couple of years ago about a program where umpires from all over the country could go to Cooperstown in upstate New York to umpire but the catch was that you had to be there with a team to help umpire games.
Pat’s cousin, Matt McCabe, of Lowell, Massachusetts, was the coach this summer of a 12 and under aged youth baseball in Lowell called The Shedd Park. McCabe’s Lowell, Mass., team was headed to play at Cooperstown in early August in one of its nationwide tournaments. Each team is supposed to supply an umpire for the tournament and Matt McCabe knew his cousin, Pat, was one of the finest and most respected youth baseball umpires in the southern part of Michigan. “Matt ask me to go there and be their umpire and it saved them a huge fee as they supplied an ump and it gave me a great opportunity that I had always wanted to be a part of,” said the veteran umpire Pat about the umpiring experience. “I had known about the Cooperstown tournament and my cousin had talked about taking a team and it all came together to make it happen this summer. It was a great thrill to be there and be a part of such a great event and at such an historic site.”
For those who might not follow baseball as closely as others Cooperstown in upstate New York is the home of the country’s baseball Hall of Fame perhaps the best known of all the major sports hall of fames. The complex at which Hudson’s McCabe umpired featured 22 youth baseball fields in the Cooperstown, NY complex located six miles from the Hall of Fame museum that is four stories high filled with baseball history for the last 160 plus years.
McCabe got a free pass to the Hall of Fame museum and he was quite impressed. “I spent hours in there just looking at all the history, memorabilia, statues and other things as it was the first time I had ever been to the baseball hall of fame,” said McCabe, who had one personal connection to a person in the legendary hall of fame.
Back in the early 1990’s McCabe worked at his mom’s Irish Cottage Restaurant in Brooklyn and a regular customer was named Vivian Kellogg. She was a member of the long ago Women’s All-American Professional Baseball League (WAAPBL) and she is in baseball’s Hall of Fame in New York where her name is inscribed on a plaque with other members of the WAAPBL. “They had an area that showed women in baseball and her name was there and having known her was kind of neat,” said McCabe, who is from the Brooklyn area and a Columbia Central graduate nearly three decades ago. Today, in Brooklyn the Columbia youth baseball facility is called the Vivian Kellogg Sports Complex named in her honor.
McCabe was given free room and board at the Cooperstown Baseball Complex where he stayed in a barracks for nearly a week with the other umpires who were from various parts of the country. He took off for New York with his father and step-mom on Thursday, July 30th and got to Cooperstown that following day on Friday. Then on Saturday, August 1st his first job was to help officiate a skills competition among the players there as 104 teams were on hand for the baseball tournament. “My job was to help run the home run derby,” noted McCabe, who is also an accomplished youth football referee.
McCabe was an umpire for seven contests as the games went from the opener on Sunday until the championship game on Friday night after which followed a closing ceremony. “I had a great time umpiring and for my first time there I was able to get seven games to ump,” said McCabe, 47, who has his wife, Sheri, and three children in Josh, Chelsie and Reece. “I got to be behind the plate for one game and I did the bases the other six games. I worked one game Sunday and then two games the next three days.”
McCabe also was pleased that he was able to watch his cousin’s team play one of its games. “Without my cousin inviting me to be their umpire I wouldn’t have had the chance to come out here to umpire in this great city and complex,” said McCabe, who works for Pittsford Schools during the school year.
The veteran ump did admit that he was a bit nervous in his opening game on that Sunday, August 2nd contest.”Yes, in my first game I might have missed one and looked bad as I called a runner out at second but I gave the safe sign and that caused some controversy but after that I settled down and things were smooth sailing after that, ” said McCabe, who has been umpiring in and around Hudson for the past 20 plus years now. “I worked with some really good umpires and we all got along and I learned some things and made some friends also.”
McCabe was not paid for his umpiring services but all he had to supply was a way to get there and then when he was done he received several nice perks that made the trip worthwhile. He got two nice navy blue umpire shirts, a navy blue umpire T-shirt, an umpire cap, umpire jacket, ball bag, brush and lastly a huge ring for his efforts at the Cooperstown tourney. “They took very good care of us once we got there until we left,” said McCabe, who is best known around Hudson for his work umpiring the annual David Clark Memorial tourney as he has been one of its main umps since the event started 15 years ago.
McCabe learned a couple of things that will better prepare him for another trip to Cooperstown to umpire. “A lot of the umps had like six different color shirts from navy blue, light blue, black, white, red and beige and I had just my two light and dark blue shirts that we use around here,” said McCabe, who added.”The head umpire in charge of all the umps didn’t really care for my umpire shield that I use behind the plate and he wanted to know why I didn’t use a regular chest protector like all the other umps.”
McCabe is known to many in southern Michigan as the “old-school” umpire for using the shield that sets him apart from the modern day umps in the high school games around here who no longer use the once common umpire shield behind the plate.”It works for me and I feel comfortable using it and have no plans to stop,” said the old-school umpire, who recently moved back to Hudson from Osseo in late May.
McCabe left Cooperstown on Friday, August 7th and then spent a couple of days with family in the Boston area before returning home on Monday, August 10th. “Sure, I missed Hudson and my family but I want to make this trip again and umpire at Cooperstown at least one more time,” said McCabe, who hopes to go back in two years to do it all again with one added dimension to his trip.
Near the Hall of Fame museum is the official major league sized field called Abner Doubleday Field named for the original founder of the game of baseball in America back 160 plus years ago. “I want to play on that field some day or at least ump a game there as it is a beautiful and historic place,” said McCabe, who had no regrets about the trip to Cooperstown. “I went to Cooperstown saw the Hall of Fame and got to umpire in the legendary city near the Hall of Fame and it was a great way to end my summer of umpiring youth baseball. I really do want to go back again someday.”
McCabe is a very good local youth baseball umpire and he may never make the Hall of Fame but he can always say he umpired at Cooperstown when he was at the Hall of Fame.