Sandberg men 'strike three' on softball field
Sports umpires do their level best to be the "good guy" on the field of play. But it's nice to know their officiating family is behind them when a fan or player gets upset at a call.
Prescott Valley father and sons Scott, Corey and Dallas Sandberg have combined filial and officiating family togetherness. This summer, for the first time, they jointly officiated a softball game. Fortunately, no one got upset during the men's fast pitch game on Prescott's Ken Lindley field. The Sandberg men scrutinize the action to get their calls right.
Scott is in his 21st season as an umpire. He also officiates football, baseball and basketball, so he's busy year-round. He said he officiated volleyball for about five years, but doesn't now.
Dallas started officiating at age 15 years, learning from his father. He has continued to umpire while attending the University of Idaho in Moscow on a football scholarship. He does slow-pitch and fast pitch softball, baseball, and also youth football up in Idaho.
He and his dad umped three games in a Moscow slow-pitch league, when Scott visited early in July. "The competition is not quite to our quality down here, because they don't play year-round," Scott noted.
It wasn't all work. Father and son also got in a 3-day camp-out in Glacier National Park.
After Scott returned home to Prescott Valley, Dallas called to tell him about a ballplayer's comments.
"This guy called Dallas and told him, 'I enjoy your games, and there's only one umpire better than you - your dad,'" Scott said.
Although Corey is the older brother, he's the newcomer in the umpiring trio. He said he's played a lot of softball as an adult, and two years of baseball as a kid.
He started officiating this spring with Juniors Little League baseball.
"I just kind of jumped into it," said Corey. "My dad's been doing it for years. I don't like it as much as my brother does. I don't think I will continue in Idaho."
Umpiring is somewhat therapy for him, as he continues to rehabilitate from injuries he received in Iraq while serving as an Army squad leader.
His dad understands the value of the activity.
"For those two hours (umping), nothing else matters. I'm not going to miss a call behind the plate," Scott said.
This fall, Corey will attend the U. of Idaho and hopes to join his brother in the football program as a "walk-on."
Who knows, maybe the brothers will officiate games together there, too, and get dad in on the act to complete the trio.