As many of you have probably read, a Mississippi umpire was punched in the face by the mother of a player following a softball game for 12-year-old girls last Saturday.

According to news reports, the umpire, a 10-year veteran, made a call when a player slid into second base, and the mother of the player yelled obscenities. The mother was asked to leave, and while everyone thought she had left the facility, she had not. When the game was over, the mother reportedly sucker-punched the umpire, leaving her with a black and blue eye.

Mississippi Today reported that the mother, wearing a T-shirt that read “Mother of the Year,” has been charged with misdemeanor simple assault and a court date has been set for May 18. The umpire, Kristi Moore, went public with her account of the incident, which has gone viral on social media.

All of us at UMPS CARE Charities were disappointed to hear the news, but sadly, we were not shocked. There has been a shortage of umpires across the nation, largely because parents, coaches and players have engaged in verbal and physical abuse against sports officials. Tournaments and games (in all sports, not just baseball and softball) are being canceled all over the country because of this behavior.

UMPS CARE Charities reached out to Kristi and connected her with an MLB Umpire for a phone conversation in which he offered his support and words of encouragement.

Kristi said she was “blown away” by having an MLB Umpire reach out to her.

“I’m overwhelmed and really blown away by the amount of support I have received,” she said. “I have heard from people in Canada, Australia and even Nigeria.”

She said she had to share her story because, “this is not OK.”

“At UMPS CARE Charities, our creed is ‘Helping People Is An Easy Call,’ “ said UMPS CARE Charities Executive Director Jennifer Skolochenko-Platt. “Although we are saddened by this incident, we are proud to support umpires at all levels who are managing challenging situations. A simple phone call from an MLB Umpire went a long way for this umpire from Mississippi.”

This is not the first time UMPS CARE Charities has had to come to the support of umpires who have faced ugly incidents at games.

MLB Umpire Chris Guccione, with the support of MLB and the Colorado Rockies, invited a 13-year-old umpire who was working a game for 7-year-olds when a brawl among the parents ensued, to meet his crew before a Rockies game. MLB Umpires and Crew Chiefs Jim Reynolds and Dan Iassogna have spoken out publicly about pushing for legislation to make it a felony if someone attacks a sports official in Connecticut.

Public awareness about these incidents, combined with legislative measures, help bring this issue to the forefront.

As a charity, UMPS CARE Charities is working to be part of the solution to this problem by training teens in leadership skills and umpire mechanics in addition to connecting them with umpire mentors in their local community to support them when times get tough. Learn more about our Official Leadership Program.

“UMPS CARE Charities was founded to support umpires and our communities,” said UMPS CARE Charities President Gary Darling, who spent nearly three decades working in Major League Baseball. “Major League Baseball Umpires know the challenges that youth umpires face. People need to realize that there is a crisis in this country with a shortage of umpires and officials in all sports. Like Kristi said, this behavior is not OK.”