Thursday, March 26, 2020

Umpire not doing much of anything, still disliked by local fans

Despite having not umpired a game in several months, Wes Huntley hasn't been able to escape fan's criticism. Huntley, who was about to begin his eighth season as an umpire in various independent leagues in Georgia and Tennessee when the outbreak of the coronavirus cancelled sports worldwide, said he is still experiencing heckling and taunting in his everyday life.

"It's been tough. I was at the post office and a guy was remembering a call I had made in a game in 2016 and he said 'how much were they paying you?!' And I said 'I'm not exactly sure what my salary was in 2016.' He didn't like that," said Huntley, 45.

While having his 2005 Toyota Corolla serviced in early-March, Huntley asked about oil change prices and pointed at the menu.

"The mechanic yelled 'that was a ball!'" Huntley said. "I was confused, but I asked him if he could just tell me how much a premium oil change would be as compared to a regular oil change and he started booing. It's something every day."

It hasn't been all about baseball when it comes to the taunts of local residents. While interviewing Huntley for this story outside his Clarkston, GA home, local resident Claire Bancroft yelled "you call that walking a dog?! You stink!"

Even far from his two-bedroom home, Huntley can't escape the fans.

"I visited my optometrist yesterday morning, he's probably a half-hour, maybe 40 minutes from my house. A few people were outside the doctor's office, screaming things like 'get a pair of glasses!'. And I was like, 'that's what I'm doing,'" said Huntley.

Like all umpires, Huntley is looking forward to getting back to calling games, whenever that may be.

"There's only so many times I can dust off the home plate I installed in my living room, or call time while my dog rests on the sidewalk," Huntley said. "Plus, the other day while I was carrying several bags of groceries into my home my neighbor Ken, who is usually a pretty nice guy, kept telling me to ask for help. The season can't start soon enough."

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