Saturday April 6 : SCAA PONY League Season Opening, 2849 Eason Road, Chesapeake
You can order books directly from Jim! There are hardback and paperback versions of the book. If you order from Jim via email, you can get a personal note and signature and the net proceeds (after publishing costs) go to pre-selected charities. email@example.com
If you search for "Sweeping Off the Plate" on Amazon, Jim's book comes right up. The Amazon price for the paperback version is $17.95 and the hardback version is $25.95. Sales Tax and shipping costs may be added. (Note: Amazon direct-ships to you, so Jim won't be able to sign it. Also, getting the book by emailing Jim allows for a charity contribution.)
Jim loved baseball from the time he was knee-high to a grasshopper. His Dad Ed coached him in Little League. Jim had the gumption to get behind the plate and was a star catcher for his Rose High School team. He went on to play at East Carolina University. When shoulder problems ended his playing career, he took up umpiring and worked his way to the college ranks. When back problems ended his umpiring career, he took on the job as commissioner, assigning 150 umpires for the Eastern Officials Association in Coastal Virginia. He never met a stranger and his baseball enthusiasm was infectious.
Jim tells stories about calls, arguments, ejections and fun times on the field. Do umpires ever admit to making a mistake or a bad call? Jim will share the truth (do managers ever admit to making a mistake or not knowing a rule? Well, no).
Umpiring 200 games a season while working a day job or assigning 7,000 games a year after retiring from umpiring doesn't leave much time for family. Jim cherishes his family and describes how baseball and life can be kept in balance.
"As a former major league player and a 2 time all star pitcher for the San Francisco Giants and now as a coach of 30 years, I've had quite a few discussions with umpires- most in the heat of battle. Jim does a great job in bringing out the human, as well as humorous side of discussions between coaches, players and umpires. I have known Jim more than 25 years and have tremendous respect for him and the job he did as an umpire and assigner. I know we didn’t always agree on calls but that’s what makes for good stories. I highly recommend this book as a fun read with good insights on the great game of baseball. This is one call Jim got right."
"As the head baseball coach at First Colonial High School in Virginia Beach for over 26 years, I didn’t always see eye-to-eye with Umpire Jim Smith’s calls. One thing we both agree on, however, is that baseball stories are often more memorable than the games themselves. If you love the game, you’re going to thoroughly enjoy Jim’s take on the quirky people, places and events he’s encountered over the years on the other side of the plate. Good read, folks. Good call, Jim."
Coach Norbie Wilson
Bryant & Stratton College Bobcats
Virginia Beach, Virginia
"I was fortunate to have worked with Jim for several years, as he was the assignor for our games. During that time I never doubted the quality of umpires he was going to send me. Even if there were some disagreements, he was always there to correct the situation or make it better. As a Head Coach, knowing you're going to have quality umpires is one less thing to worry about. Knowing that Jim was in charge, that was never a question. His book is a collection of great stories, told with great skill."
"In 1987 I joined EVOA, now EOA, after spending 11 years a professional baseball umpire in the minor leagues as well as in the majors. Upon joining the organization I met Jim Smith, (known to some as “Smooch”). It was a funny nickname, but I don’t think Jim kissed up to anyone, and if anything he had a reputation of sometimes turning a deaf ear to confrontations on the field. It is true that Jim did not shy away from the trouble that inevitably involves even the best umpires. This trait served him well in his later years as Commissioner for EOA, by being able to relate well to players, coaches and umpires. He guided the organization to the next level with the help of an umpire evaluation system that I designed and Jim implemented wholeheartedly. Jim’s book is a GREAT, easy read, which brings back many umpiring memories."
"Jim and I had numerous interactions over my 29 years as head baseball coach at Newport News Apprentice school (and another 15 previously as either a player or asst. coach). This is a book that even the casual baseball fan should enjoy. This book shows how a sense of humor can keep this game fun. As the umpires say, the best place to hide a 100 dollar bill from a coach is to put it in a rule book. Best of luck Jim, it was a lot of fun!"
"As President of the International League for the past 28 years I had the pleasure of meeting Jim in the spring of 2006. It came about in a very strange way, but beneficial for everyone. The late Dave Rosenfield, General Manager of the Norfolk Tides who spent 48 years in the League and I had a very close relationship and on the mezzanine at Harbor Park one beautiful June night Dave introduced me to Jim.
Whenever we had an umpire in the International League get hurt or called up to the big leagues we would secure a local umpire on a temporary basis. Dave would assist us in securing the best local umpires. I soon found out Jim was in charge of the top umpires in Tidewater Virginia area and also one of the largest amateur associations in the state of Virginia. With both Dave and Jim's assistance we were always able to get the best substitute available and many times at the last minute. Jim was always open to give us one of his top college umpires at a last minutes notice.
If you know Jim, he can talk baseball stories forever, a Dave Rosenfield clone. So knowing he was going to write a book I knew it was going to be a success. In this book you will get to know Jim, not only as a player, umpire and assigner, you will get to know the person that is respected and admired to anyone involved in baseball. A great read."
"Jim and I have sat together at Norfolk Tides games trading baseball stories for at least the last 15 years. I am President of a number of Minor League teams including the Norfolk Tides (26 Years), The Albuquerque Isotopes (16), The Bowie Baysox (13), The Frederick Keys (13) and the Biloxi Shuckers (4). We sit in the same area at Harbor Park so it is easy to exchange baseball stories and I also know Jim from his providing local umpires to our games on a timely basis when there weren’t enough League umpires.
It was most fun taking part in stories with Jim and our late GM, Dave Rosenfield, who was in the Tidewater area for over 50 years. Jim has a great recall of his baseball life which provides many insights and humor into the people he has dealt with. The book will bring a smile and is an easy read that quickly passes the time. He has a knack for reaching people and getting the best out of them as the book illustrates."
"As a General Manager in the International League for seven years and a veteran of several professional sports leagues, I have had countless interactions with umpires and league officials.
Jim Smith was a true asset to the Tides when called upon in a pinch. Whether we needed umpires for a high school, college, Minor League game or Major League exhibition, Jim was always there to ready to help. He is still a steady fixture at Harbor Park and baseball fields throughout the area. Jim’s stories are a joy to hear and have now found their way into his new book, Sweeping Off The Plate. Just as I have, I’m confident baseball fans will enjoy his warm and humorous storytelling from someone who has really done it all in baseball."
"During my 1027 game career I played for the Yankees, Astros, Cubs, Braves, Red Sox and the Astros. I was a 1962 All Star.
I’ve known Jim for over 10 years and have a tremendous amount of respect for him and the job he did as an umpire and assigner. I met Jim through the Tides’ staff and look forward to seeing him every time I am in Norfolk. We both always get to the game at least 1 hour early, sit in the same place and talk baseball right up to the first pitch.
I highly recommend this book as a fast read with good insights into the great game of baseball. Jim’s book is not only a memoir, but an instructional book too. The way he ties in players, coaches and umpires makes this book unique. Talk about a “PERFECT GAME”- this is it."
" I have 1,100 career coaching wins
at UMO while winning 15 Conference Carolinas Championships and the 2008 NCAA Division II National Championship.
I met Jim a few years back when his son Ryan became the Sports Iinformation Director here. Since then we've had great about the great game of baseball. It seemed like we always ended up talking about the umpires, which Jim has such a passion for. He is such a genuine gentleman that I have the utmost respect for. Talk about someone that knows the game of baseball, the
ins and outs of umpiring and running an organization- wait until you read his book and you will see what I mean."
"I was an umpire in Jim's association and then a professional umpire. Now I train and coach minor league umpires. I understand how umpires affect the growth of young players in our charge.
As officials (whether it be on the court or on the diamond), we are consistently responsible for keeping the game flowing with a neutral purpose: the enjoyment of sport for kids and young adults. I thoroughly enjoyed the high school games Jim and I worked together and witnessed Jim's commitment to that purpose.
Readers will enjoy Sweeping Off the Plate as it captures the essence of what one dedicated umpire and leader can do to positively impact the game and its young players. Congratulations, Jim!"
[The first printing of Jim's book had the misprint, "Sweeping of the Plate" on the binding. Kris Denson, now an NCAA basketball official, talks about that mistake.] "I like the mistake. That's exactly what made you as good of a damn ump and mentor you have always been- learning from the mistakes. That's what you taught me to do and how our entire officiating career is built- from a mistake just about every game, until they become so rare that we're above 95%. That doesn’t make us 100% every game... that ONE mistake. I LOVE it! To those of us officials, I think it speaks volumes about how we have become who we are today because of wearing the 'stripes'."
"As a long-time Hampton Roads broadcaster, I've come to know many of the area's sporting figures. Thirty years of broadcasting, including work with Norfolk Tides baseball, Norfolk Admirals hockey, ODU men's and women's basketball, high school football, WVEC-TV 13 and WAVY-TV 10 and even time with the Baltimore Orioles have enabled me to cross paths with countless athletes, coaches, executives, broadcasters, fans and officials. Few have as many entertaining stories and thoughtful insights into officiating, especially baseball, as Jim Smith. I should know, having ALSO spent more than a decade working for Jim as an area baseball umpire. On several occasions, I'd finish a Tides broadcast wearing my umpire uniform and then dash to the field to call a game after ending a broadcast! With Jim, it's never been just about balls and strikes or safes and outs. As an umpire and assignor, he always knew how to 'connect' with the people in the game, and I think you'll find that personal touch true in this array of amazing stories. Enjoy the read!"
"I've been a Certified Master Athletic Administrator, Student Activities Coordinator and Athletic Director at Kempsville High School in Virginia Beach since 2010. I have known Jim since 2002 when I was an assistant Student Activities Coordinator and I speak highly of his judgement and character. Jim always had umpires at our home games and treated everyone with an opinion respectfully and listened to our concerns. I look forward to his book release because if you love baseball and you love coaching he blends these two things together so you understand both worlds. The coaches always have an opinion and the judgement the umpires have to make can make for some funny stories and some fond memories. Thanks Jim for all the wonderful stories and memories."
"I have found in my time as a player and coach, this baseball thing is infectious. After playing and coaching competitively for almost 28 years, I can’t get enough of the game. I think a lot of the lure to baseball comes from the people you meet and the stories you create along the way. The most entertaining stories from my life emanate from on-field encounters and off-field shenanigans with my teammates. One of my biggest fears as I continue my baseball journey is forgetting some of these cherished memories. Jim did a great job touching on a lot of fun topics that will resonate with true fans of baseball. His stories will remind readers why they love and respect the game."
Ever wonder what's being said when the coach and umpire are having a spirited discussion on the field? Ever wonder how an umpire who is showed up by a player might exact some subtle revenge? Jim knows the inside scoop on lots of neat situations, including the "Double Ejection" game above. Here are examples of stories you'll enjoy in Jim's book.
Cheaters Never Prosper – We were at Cascade Park in Norfolk, Virginia doing a Palomino (ages 17-18) tournament game. Johnson City, Tennessee was always the power house and they usually won by a large margin. On this particular night in late August, one of the teams got word that one of the players on Johnson City was not the same player that they listed on their official roster. The tournament director, Flash Gordon, decided to check into it.
For the sake of the story we will use the fictitious names (Jim-18 yrs. old and John- 19 yrs. old). Jim was the name listed on the roster. John, his older brother, was a much better player but looked a lot like Jim. Mr. Gordon decided to call Tennessee and see who answered the phone. The person answering the phone, not knowing who was on the other line, introduced himself as Jim. When asked if he could speak to John, an innocent and unprepared Jim said, "he is in Virginia playing baseball." Find out what the tournament director did with Jim, John and the Johnson City team.
Late to the Plate – (This story comes from Jeff Aldridge, then a Little Leaguer whose memory of a day long ago stuck with him.)
"You umpired a game for us when I was in Little League. I didn’t know you well, but I knew you were a star catcher and played at both Rose High School and ECU around the time my brother Mike did. I remember one game in particular when I was pitching and you were umpiring behind the plate at Guy Smith Stadium.
My catcher was late getting on his gear one inning and no one from the bench came out to warm me up. You put your protector and mask down, squatted behind the plate and motioned for me to go ahead and throw to you. You were barehanded and so I just barely tossed the first warm up pitch, you threw it back and said 'go ahead and bring it.' I said I didn’t want to hurt you. You said I wouldn’t so I threw the next one a little harder. You said that was a little better, but this time, give it all you have. I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging about my ability then, but for a Little Leaguer I threw pretty hard and the last thing I wanted to do was hurt or show up the umpire. I threw the next one about ½ speed and you said something like, 'Come on! I said show me what you’ve got!' I reared back on the next one and let it go, throwing as hard as I could." Find out if Jim survives.
Let's go get our Eyes Examined – (Coach Chris Dotolo from Norfolk Academy tells this one.)
"We were hitting and I was coaching third base. You were the Umpire in the field. Our batter hit a ball into right center and was stretching a single into a double. It was a bang-bang play and you called him out. I thought he was safe. I walked onto the field up to you and said, 'Jim let me ask you a question. Did you really see the play?' You told me yes, you saw the whole thing. I said, 'Jim are you sure you saw the play because I'm standing there in the coaching box, and I had a great angle.' You said, 'Oh Chris I had a pretty good angle too.'
Just about then, a commercial jet descending on its approach to Norfolk Airport flew over the Norfolk Academy ball field. I said, 'Jim let me tell you something that you don’t know about me. See that plane? I've got really, really good eyesight. My eyesight is so good that I could be flying jets right now. The only problem is I'm afraid of heights.' And you looked at me and said, 'Well Chris I've got pretty good eyesight too.' I said, 'Really, good enough to fly jets?' Before you could respond I said, 'You know what Jim, when this game's over, how about you and me head down to the Walmart down the street, and we'll both take an eye exam. I guarantee you my vision is better than yours.'" Find out how long after that Coach Dotolo stayed in the game!
Thurman Munson was a great catcher for the Yankees. He had a great arm. How accurately do you think he could throw a ham and cheese sandwich?
Coaches don't always come out to argue. Sometimes they are simply "protecting their players." Hear some of the strangest reasons for coming out and the sometimes wacky conversations coaches have with umpires.
Runners are on 2nd and 3rd. The cleanup hitter smacks a single up the middle that scores both runs. But the end of the bat has flown off toward first and a tennis ball has bounced to the shortstop. How does an umpire handle this situation?
There are paperback and hard back versions of the book. If you're interested in getting a signed copy, simply email Jim Smith indicating your interest.