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Umpiring the sport she can no longer play

Umpiring Major League baseball isn't something people think that I do. After all, I'm a girl, you know. If you've been reading my articles, you know that I'm not one to follow the crowd.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, I get to get out on that field and umpire the game I used to play. Watching little 9 and 10-year-old boys strike out and look and me and say, "What!?" is hilarious. It's something I look forward to in every game, and every time I say, "You swung, you're out," I always end up having to tell them about three times before they actually get it.

At each game when I walk up to the field, a flood of memories come back to me. Hitting the ball past the infield -- I thought that was far -- playing my favorite game with my mom and dad, or catching that pop fly to end the inning. The brightest memory has to be when I lost my tooth in the middle of the inning.

I was on the Mets in Minor League and I was playing shortstop. In Minor League, you never really hit the ball on the first pitch. The coaches pitch so that makes it a bit easier for the 6 and 7 year olds to hit. The game was going slow when I noticed that I had something in the bottom of my mouth.

Being the gross little 6 year old I was, I spit into my hand and out came a tooth. I decided the best idea was to go give it to my mom, who was the assistant coach. She wasn't exactly the nicest person when I handed her the slobber-coated tooth.

She said something along the lines of, "Get back out on the field!!" Trust me, I wanted to get back out there, I just didn't want to play with one of my teeth in my hands. I ran right back out there and helped end the inning.

Steve, who in my opinion is one of the best coaches out there, coached the Mets. He made baseball fun. He made being the only girl on an all-boy team bearable. I realized that it was fun to be the only girl -- I could kick their butts, and they all knew it.

When I entered the Major League, I can honestly say I got a little teensy bit scared. There were 10 year olds playing! That was one whole year older! Oooh the shivers raced down my back whenever I batted against a 10 year old. The first year of Major League baseball, my team (The Cardinals) won the championship game -- making us the best team in the league.

Soon I became a 10 year old and I was the one scaring the little 9-year-old children. It was just great. This is the time when I started catching. I realized that catcher was my favorite position and I wanted to play it all the time. Our team then helped each other win the championship game for about the millionth time in a row.

The Rockies never won the championship game when I was in Little League. Honestly, we were never even close. We tried, we had fun, and we played the game. My catching career took off then, making me one of the best catchers in the league. (People still ask me about that. They say, "Hey! Are you that girl that played for the Rockies a few years back? Man, you were really good!" It makes me feel nice inside.) One of those years we were the team with three girls -- my mom, Allison and me.

Here I am now, umpiring the game I no longer get to play. Because I'm a girl, I don't get the chance to play my favorite game; the game I love. It's either softball or nothing. I played it one year and then decided it wasn't for me. I missed the fast pace of baseball.

So whether I'm getting accused of texting while the kids are batting, (by the way, it's called a counter -- you know, so I know what the count is. It matters to them and it matters to me.) getting told to have better eyesight, or getting thanked or congratulated on calling a great game, I love watching the kids play the game I love.

Although I never see any girls playing, I can't help but think what could have been, or of all the fun I've had playing baseball.

Berit Ramstad Skoyles is a sophomore at Detroit Lakes High School.