Time has a way of changing a ball player’s perspective.
When Frank Humber first suited up for the Corner Brook Barons at the Baseball Canada Senior Men’s Championships in 1992 as a hard-throwing left handed pitcher, he admits he was somewhat amused at the team’s grizzled veterans in the twilight of their careers.
Now 47 and a cagey veteran in his own right, Humber said it’s a different feeling as he prepares to face the country’s best at the 2014 Baseball Canada Senior Men’s Championship this week in St. John’s. The Barons are the Newfoundland and Labrador representatives after winning the senior A provincial crown last year.
“I was looking at those guys saying ‘My God, isn’t it time for you to retire?,’” Humber said Tuesday with a chuckle. “I’m one of those guys now.”
Although he has coached at the national level at peewee, bantam and midget events, he hasn’t toed the rubber at nationals since 1999.
While he relies on command and smarts rather than power to get outs now, he said he still relishes the chance to compete, particularly in his last days as a player on the national stage.
“I know there will be no more opportunities at the nationals for me,” he said. “I’ve pitched forever and if I pitch one more inning and have to call it quits, I certainly haven’t been cheated.”
Humber’s son Daniel, an infielder with the Barons, wasn’t born when his father made his debut in the early 1990s.
Although the elder Humber is keeping personal and team expectations modest in the face of some stiff competition, he said he feels fortunate to have stayed healthy long enough to enjoy the rare chance of suiting up with his son.
“It’s kind of nice to be able to compete at that level with your son. That’s going to make it a little extra special,” he said.
At 18, Daniel is the youngest player on the club and said he’s too young to have witnessed his father pitch in his prime.
The pair have played together on the Veitch’s Ultramar Hawks, where Daniel said his dad is the same as his other teammates.
“I call him Frank on the bench, not dad,” he said with a laugh.
Despite his youth, Humber has faced the best the country has to offer as he climbed the ranks at the minor level.
He knows the competition will be stiff but figures the squad should benefit by not being saddled with the high expatiations faced by the higher-profile teams in the tournament.
“We basically don’t have any pressure. We just get to go out, have fun and see what happens,” he said. “We know where we stand when it comes to population issues compared to other provinces but we’re going out there to compete.”
The younger Humber said he intends to be ready for any role expected of him once action gets underway.
“I know what it takes to play at that level,” he said. “I just need to make sure I bring what I can to the team.”
The tournament gets underway Thursday and will wrap up Sunday. A home run derby, which will include Corner Brook’s Jay Warford, will be held today.
For a complete weekend schedule, see the Scoreboard on page 14 of Wednesday's Western Star.