Monday, June 4, 2007
The irrelevant & irreverent ramblings
All Hail the "Chief"
By John "Stonewall" Philbeck
In the spring of 1996 Jay Neff was at Kent-Meridian High School to watch his son play in a game that was following the varsity contest. Apparently he assumed incorrectly that the same umpires would be the officials for his son's game and, while in the parking lot trying to negotiate the appropriate bribe, he became enmeshed in an actual conversation with these stout fellows. For some reason he asked about umpiring and they provided the name and phone number of Jack Miller. Even more incredibly, Jay actually kept the information and phoned Jack. The following spring found "The Chief" in training and on the field. Please note, this is an excellent example for all members; be very careful when giving information to strangers!
When Jay joined NBUA there were no mentors, however, Brian Gooch had a system in place to help new members through Buddy Games. Jay states that he benefited greatly from these opportunities. He also credits the extraordinary efforts of Brant Culley who took Jay under his wings and taught Jay to soar. Sounds like maybe we did have mentors back then, we just didn't know about them.
After graduating from Orono High School in Maine! Jay joined the U.S. Coast Guard where he served for twenty-four years. The final seven years in the Coast Guard were at the rank of Chief Petty Officer. When asked what a "petty" was Jay explained that the term is from the French (do we actually want any of our service organizations using any French references?) Petite, which you may recall means small. Any of you familiar with the service also fully understand that the position of Chief Petty Officer is anything but small! The rank is one of great prestige and importance on board any vessel. Qualifying as a Chief Petty Officer not only carries requirements of time in service, superior evaluation scores, and specialty examinations, but also carries an added requirement of peer review. A Petty Officer First Class can only advance after review by a selection board of serving Senior and Master Chief Petty Officers, in effect "choosing their own." Advancement into the Chief Petty Officer grades is the most significant promotion within the enlisted naval ranks. A Chief Petty Officer should always be addressed as Chief Petty Officer Neff or Chief Neff but, as a noncommissioned officer, they should not be addressed as Sir.
The Chief plans to spend at least another ten years umpiring with NBUA. When asked why NBUA his answer was short and sweet, "Best training, best umpires, best friends." He most enjoys the thrill, action and working with the kids but concedes that those one-person junior high games aren't as enjoyable anymore. The common bond of umpires for Jay is kind of like a brethren. "It's hard to describe but only fellow umpires can know what it's like to be one. There's a mutual respect and a mutual love of the game. We also know that we are all a little off our rocker for doing these games over and over again."
Ref: Wikipedia on-line encyclopedia