by Kevin Burton
The beep baseball league wanted me to sign a code of conduct agreement in order to appear in the 2021 World Series.
It’s one of many things that has changed since I retired as a player/manager five years ago.
It makes me smile.
Required is actually the word, the league required me to sign. No sign, no play. So I signed twice, once for myself, once for my wife.
That was my first official acknowledgement that the new team I joined, the USA Legends, actually exists. I had to select it from a drop down menu.
No, I didn’t read the code. I couldn’t scroll down fast enough to the bottom, to the place to sign. On the way down I did notice there is something called “Appendix A” in the code.
That made me laugh out loud.
When I joined the league full time in 1995 (I played one regional tournament in 1989) I began to hear stories of the old days in Chicago when the Insights and Cobras used to brawl. I always wondered if the stories were embellished but I don’t believe they were invented out of whole cloth. There were too many stories for that.
I signed a code of conduct of sorts when I started coaching in Wichita. One of the first things I said to players was, “The fastest way off this team, you high partials (players who are legally blind but have some vision), is to cheat by looking under a blindfold during a game. We are not having that here.”
That’s the conduct I have been most upset about over the years. I’ve been cheated out of too many games by players who were obviously looking out of the side of their blindfold to make plays and the umpires did nothing about it.
One of the game’s all-time great pitchers told me once he was playing against a cheater team and he held up his pitching glove in the universal motion that means throw me the ball. The supposedly blindfolded player threw him the ball with no verbal clues.
That’s why I laugh about code of conduct. In the old days I thought of the league as the gang that couldn’t, or wouldn’t, shoot straight.
But that was a long time ago. Along with the code of conduct, the league has put rules in place governing cheating by using vision. Apparently a new day dawned in my five years away.
My other code of conduct story was one of the stranger ones I know of in beep baseball.
My first year with the Kansas Allstars, one of my team mates mouthed off to an opponent under his breath, only it wasn’t quite under his breath. This opponent heard him and started repeating, “What did he call me?”
I wasn’t in the game at the time, having earned a seat on the bench with uninspired play.
So I didn’t notice the developing situation until one of our pitchers said “oh there’s gonna be a fight….” I hadn’t been paying attention but I was now.
“What” I said. I walked to the foul line.
The player was gesturing animatedly toward my team mate still repeating, “What did he call me?” The player took three steps toward my team mate.
I then did something that should have gotten me ejected. I crossed the foul line and walked onto the field in the direction of the would be combatants.
I wasn’t talking any trash though, wasn’t talking at all. I stood there with my right hand on my hip, watching for movement waiting.
When the Houston player went back to his bench, I went back to mine.
The strange thing about it was that I walked past my team mates, past the Houston pitcher, past, HELLO, the home plate umpire and presumably (I didn’t notice) the next Houston batter standing at the plate. And nobody but nobody said a word to me. Nothing.
Thank God nothing happened. Getting in a fight at a beep baseball competition is stupid. It is exponentially more stupid when the other side is Houston, or Bayou City as they are called now.
Ever hear of an airport team? That’s a team with players so huge that it gets off the airplane already intimidating everyone.
So beep baseball players can’t see so well, I get it, but we know. The airport team thing still works. And Houston/Bayou City is not the team to mess with. That is still true all these years later.
I will mind my Ps and Qs at the series, promise.