Hank Molina was my first, and best, boss. Hank had been the Farmington Amateur Baseball Congress Umpire in Chief since before I was born, and he turned eighty years old the year I started working for him as an ump. Never a large man, Hank’s body had shriveled considerably by the time I met him, and the top of his hunching head just reached my shoulders. But he carried a spirit the size of the Bambino in that little old frame, and his mind was sharp as a spiked cleat. He once told me, “I’ve forgotten more about baseball than you’ll ever know,” and his authority on the diamond was unquestionable. Whenever a game got ugly or coaches got belligerent disagreeing over a rule, all you had to do was call Hank. Actually, all you usually had to do was threaten to call Hank.
But if threats didn’t work and you had to go through with the call, Hank would pull up in his old Chevy Blazer (always stuffed with so much umpiring gear that it couldn’t hold more than one passenger), make himself a parking spot as close to the gates as possible, and mosey up to the field. He would meet with the umpires, away from any coaches’ earshot, and after a quick discussion, he would calmly inform the concerned parties that the right call had been made, and the umpires’ decision stood. It didn’t matter if you had made the correct ruling or not, Hank always had your back and that was that. No coach, parent, or player ever tried to argue with him about it. Or if they did, Hank never bothered to listen.