Everything you say upsets half the people who hear it. Your best days come when nobody notices your performance. Loving the game is a prerequisite, but you never can root for anybody you see play.
Some job description, huh?
No, glamour is not a perk of umpiring. Overcoming its many challenges, however, can be quite rewarding. It just might take a while.
The highest honor for Little League umpires, like their major-league counterparts, is to work a World Series. Little League umpires are just like teams. Every year, thousands start with the hope of being the best. Only a few make it. And this year, one of the best umpires is from Town 'N Country.
Tim Madden, a District 6 umpire for 22 years, works his first game at the Little League Softball World Series on Saturday in Portland, Ore.
It's an honor an umpire can experience just once, and it's something Madden will savor.
"It'll be very exciting," Madden said. "There's a lot of good ballplayers and a lot of good pitching."
Madden learned of his selection for the World Series, which is for ages 11-12, in December from Sonny Watson, District 6's chief umpire.
Watson, who is fighting cancer and is well-respected throughout the state, worked the World Series in 1998.
"I couldn't believe I was actually going to go," he said. "When you've done this for a lot of years, you want to go. But when you hear it, it's like, "You're kidding.' "
The road he has traveled has been interesting. Madden, 35, who played ball at Interbay and Bayshore Little Leagues, umpired his first game when he was 13. Two years later, he began working softball exclusively, umpiring games involving girls he went to school with.
"There'd be times that the next day, some girls wouldn't speak to me," Madden said. "I caught a little grief from them."
But by focusing on the job at hand, Madden has earned the longtime respect of administrators, players and coaches.
"Tim's a great guy," said Randi Crooks, who was coach of Citrus Park's major softball team, which won the Section 3 title last month. "You know what you're going to get from Tim. There aren't any surprises. And I think that speaks very highly of a person."
"It's hard not to get to know the kids," Madden said. "There's kids you can remember from when they were little ones. A lot will remember you. I've still got players I'll pass in the mall, and they'll still come and say hello."
"Little League has been very good me. I have a lot of good memories."