It sounded kind of odd, coming from an umpire.
“Everybody’s pretty nice,” he said as he adjusted the thin chest protector beneath his light blue short-sleeve shirt. “Nobody really gives me a hard time.”
Of course, Adam Sobosky is only 15 years old. And the baseball game he was about to call at a North Side diamond next to Willard Elementary involved kids who are 11 or 12.
“Balls in,” he said, a few minutes after 6 o’clock Thursday night.
Yelling, the catcher for the team in black jerseys repeated those words to his teammates warming up in the field.
It was overcast and warm. Out past the fence at the edge of left field, traffic on Wall Street hummed along.
“Batter up,” said Sobosky, his voice clear but not impatient.
A boy in a yellow jersey stepped to the plate, metal bat in hand.
Sobosky, who will be a sophomore at Rogers High this fall, would earn $12 for umpiring this Spokane Youth Sports Association game. But that’s not the only reason he was there.
“You have to like baseball,” he said. “I like to ump because I like baseball.”
His uniform included a plain blue cap, a face mask, blue jeans, shin guards and a protective cup.
He called balls and strikes in a no-nonsense way. There was nothing showboating about his style.
To indicate a walk - and there were plenty of those in an opening inning that took half an hour - he simply pointed in the direction of first base.
“These kids are just learning how to play the game,” he would say later.
In addition to umpiring, Sobosky plays on a team in his age group. He’s a pitcher. Says he’s not bad.
Sitting behind the baselines in lawn chairs they brought themselves Thursday night, maybe 20 members of players’ families watched. Most looked as if they were dressed for the beach.
You could close your eyes and still know you were at a kids’ baseball game.
“Good eye, Brandon.”
“C’mon, Corey. Hit it!”
“Throw strikes, Kevin.”
“Wait for your pitch, Levi.”
“Stay in front of it, Nick.”
But there wasn’t any razzing of the umpire. At least not this night.
At one point, Sobosky reached up and started to pull his face mask down into position. But he couldn’t because he had forgotten that his cap was still turned around, bill-forward.
He made the necessary adjustment and stepped behind the plate.
He’s still learning, too.
, DataTimes MEMO: Being There is a weekly feature that visits Inland Northwest gatherings.