Ump avoids a hard fastball

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You can’t stop ol’ blue

By Nick Schrager

Enterprise correspondent


A bat cuts through the thick air and a dry and stingy slap cracks as a ball hits home into a catcher’s mitt. With command, an iron like fist clenches while the muscles in the forearm tighten and flex. A voice bellows, “Strike one!”

The voice belongs to Tony Coleman.

One might say Little League is in his blood. 

It all started when he played as a child and for the last 17 years he’s coached and umpired baseball on different levels and in different states. During that time, he has dodged and been hit with his fair share of baseballs, some of which travel more than 50 mph. 

Recently, however, he dodged a fastball unlike any other. What seemed like a relaxing morning indoors quickly changed. 

“I felt something tightening up on me and I thought it was indigestion,” he said. “It was a wake-up call is what it really was.”

After taking antacids, he realized something was seriously wrong when they did not relieve the symptoms.

Coleman had his friend drive him to Spring View Hospital for treatment. He’d had a heart attack.

The doctor said he needed to immediately go to Louisville for an electrocardiogram or ECG. Thinking he needed to make arrangements to get a ride, the doctor told Coleman otherwise.

“No, we got you a ride, it’ll be here in about 10 minutes,” the doctor told Coleman.

All of the ambulances were tied up at the time and Coleman was flown to Louisville. 

The Little League community was left in awe as word spread around through social media platforms.

“We were concerned,” fellow umpire Gary Ballard said, “He’s a good umpire.”

Kenny Barnett, a local Little League coach, said he was shocked to learn about Coleman’s heart attack.

“He is a face associated with the park,” Barnett said. 

During his flight to Louisville, Coleman said he laid in silence and heard the radio chatter through the headset but he did not speak. Instead, he let the headphones muffle the chopping rotors. As he looked out the window, he thought about what was important to him. 

“I was thinking, ‘Will I ever be able to come back here? Will I ever get to see these kids again?’” Coleman recalled.

As it turns out, he would see them again very soon. In less than a week after his heart attack, Coleman was on the field, doing what he loves.

“I love the kids,” Coleman said. “I’ve got a little demeanor with the parents and the fans and everybody. It’s just a likeable community.”