LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Todd Saxey has been spending extra time doing yard work.
Saxey was laid off from his job as a district manager with the Old Spaghetti Factory. And his second job — the one he calls his "fun job" — has also been shut down. For 16 years, Saxey has been a local high school baseball umpire and basketball official.
"It's disappointing," Saxey said. "We'd started in January with rules clinics and we start preparing ourselves to get ready for the season. We know the safety of the student-athletes is most important, but it's disappointing. I love it. Both basketball and baseball are two of my favorite sports, and it keeps me active in the sports and being able to be around the athletes that are here in Louisville."
Charlie Gabriel said he stared umpiring baseball in 1972, when he was 13 years old. He has umpired high school baseball for 43 years, basketball for 33 years and volleyball for eight. Like a number of officials around Kentuckiana who work multiple leagues and multiple seasons, officiating is his main source of income.
"We don't do it for the money," Gabriel said, "but we don't work for free, either."
"I have about one month off a year between basketball and baseball," Saxey added. "So it brings in quite a bit of revenue for me. I'll take a hit."
Saxey and Gabriel are among 64 full-time members of the Kentuckiana Baseball Umpires Association and are two of the 120 or so in the basketball officials association working games in Jefferson and Bullitt counties. Losing the money definitely hurts. But, like so many people these days, losing the rhythm of one's daily existence hurts about as much.
"Many of these people are my friends," Saxey said. "People that I enjoy having this sports experience with, and it's very rewarding to me."
"The seasons are part of your life," Gabriel added. "We live our life through seasons like this, and when it just goes away — you know as well as I do — sports has a community effect, and we'll just have to rebuild that, I guess."
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