657: The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Umpire

In the summer of 1953 visitors to Boston’s famous Fenway park found themselves privy to a strange and intriguing spectacle. A strange man in a flowing robe and ancient sandals stood behind home plate, making the important decision which govern the game of baseball.

This man was none other than the famous Marcus Aurelius of Ancient Rome. Marcus had used his incredible wisdom and wealth of connections to time travel to Boston in 1953, where he once again used his connections to become an umpire in Fenway Park. Since he hailed from Ancient Rome, a place where modern day American Baseball was not particularly popular, many observers complained that Marcus was, if anything, a substandard umpire.

The facts certainly seemed to bear this out.

Marcus had been told, when applying for the job, that it would be his responsibility to call balls and strikes. Now Marcus knew exactly what a ball was, it was that little round thing that the guy in the middle of the park kept throwing towards him, but he was a total loss to explain the meaning of a strike.

So Marcus stuck to what he knew. Every time that the ball was thrown he called it a ball. Technically, of course, this was true. The physical object which was thrown across the park was a ball every single time it was thrown. Even when it was not thrown it was still a ball. When it was stuck in a box, and the box was closed so that no one could see what was inside it was both a ball, and simultaneously not a ball. But when it was flying through the air, and Marcus was looking at it was a ball every time.

So Marcus called it a ball.

The batters rarely complained about this, but the pitchers quickly grew frustrated with this turn of event. Pitchers, even though it is their job to throw balls, are uniquely attracted to throwing strikes, even when they are actually throwing balls. The claim of the pitcher is that the action of throwing the ball can become a strike in certain instances, and this is good for the pitchers feeling of self-worth, and also help them to win games.

There is nothing that a pitcher hates worse than a diminishing feeling of self-worth. And so, the pitchers began to conspire against Mr. Aurelius. They began to try hitting him with the balls that they pitched. This was poor sportsmanship, but Marcus continued to pronounce every ball that was thrown towards him a ball.

He was a real man of principle.

The pitchers got together, and decided to do something about the situation. One day, when Marcus was walking through the locker room a group of pitchers surrounded him, and stabbed him in the back.

As he lay bleeding out on the floor one of the pitchers leaned down and hit him in the face, just to be mean. The pitchers noticed that Marcus’s lips were moving, and leaned down to say what he was saying.

“That’s a strike.” Said Marcus, pointing at the pitcher who had hit him in the face.

And he died.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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