With a background in baseball seemingly drawn from a Hollywood script, Robert Meyers devoted many years to Avon Little League.
He continues his love for the game as an umpire with the Connecticut Board of Approved Umpires.
Meyers came to Avon in 1976 right out of a stint with the Navy Judge's Advocate General Corps (JAG), the legal arm of the United States Navy. Looking for a way to get involved with the community, Meyers said, “the Jaycees seemed to be an organization to join. A lot of people in that, as they had kids, participated in the Little League.”
Meyers had a son who played Little League baseball, but his tenure ran far longer than his playing days. He retired two years ago from the board though his son is now 24, and was through playing Little League when he was 12.
“I was one of those dinosaurs. There were three or four of us, that stayed on in the Little League for years after our kids played. It made it much easier, because nobody could complain you were favoring your kid or his team,” Meyer's said.
One of the greatest accomplishments of Meyer's service on the Little League was the installation of lights at Sperry Field. The project, completed in 2003, cost $140,000 in total, with $70,000 raised through the efforts of Avon Little League, and the balance matched by the town of Avon.
Sperry is used for most of the majority of Avon Little League home games. Having the lights in place went a long way to alleviate scheduling issues, particularly after games called for rain.
“Once the lights went up, it made it pretty easy,” he said.
Retiring two years ago from the board, Meyers reflected on why he stayed on so long after his son's departure.
“Everyone should do a little something for their town. I was also on the Planning and Zoning commission for twenty five years.”
When asked if he misses the board, Meyers replied, “Probably not as much as you might think, because I have other baseball involvement. My passion in life is umpiring baseball games. I look back on it fondly, but I don't pine to be back there.”
He is a member of the Connecticut Board of Approved Umpires, which covers much of the state for high school and college level games. For the last eight or 10 years he has joined up with a group of umpires he met at Cooperstown, NY, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Along with these friends, he has umpired games throughout the country.
The next big trip is to Las Vegas for a tournament on Halloween.
“Las Vegas is a crazy place anyway, but it's even crazier around Halloween,” Meyers said.
He finds the warmer climates produce a higher quality of play per age group because they get to play all year long.
A highlight of his umpiring career came last month where he officiated a game at Yankee Stadium between top prospects for the Yankees and Red Sox called the Spring Rivalry Classic. High school seniors played the game, basically to show their skills off for scouts.
Meyers' love for baseball sprung from an action of his parents.
“My parents did a very smart thing. It was a scrubby little lot, but they were smart enough to know that if they bought it, the neighborhood kids would congregate there and they'd keep a close eye on me. And we played baseball all day long,” he said.
For the price of the occasional broken window, they had their peace of mind, Meyers joked. He grew up a Yankee fan, idolizing first baseman Bill Skowrun.
As an umpire, Meyers brings his negotiating skill as a lawyer to the field. He believes that the control of the game is in his hands, and if he can't secure compliance, it is his own fault. And he finds that compliance comes fairly easy. He recalled one situation where his umpiring skills were called into question. The offended coach came off the bench, screaming, arms flailing after what he perceived to be a bad call. Upon confronting Meyers, and to the latter's great surprise, the aggrieved manager did not say a word. Instead he handed the umpire a piece of paper, an eye doctor's card.
“There's nothing you can do but laugh!” said Meyers.
Meyers continues to operate his law practice in Avon, with an office on Route 44.