Time certainly has a way of changing a ball player’s perspective. When Frank Humber got his first start for the Corner Brook Barons at the 1992 Baseball Canada senior championship, the hard-throwing southpaw pitcher admits he was somewhat amused at the team’s grizzled veterans in the twilight of their careers.
Now a veteran in his own right, Humber has a different feeling as he prepares for the 2014 senior nationals which open today 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?” the 45-year-old Humber said with a chuckle.
“I’m one of those guys now.”
Although he has coached at the national level at peewee, bantam and midget championships, he hasn’t toed the rubber at the senior nationals since 1999.
While he relies on location and smarts rather than power to get outs now, Humber 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 Barons, too young to have witnessed his father pitch in his prime, when he toiled for Wake Forest University, with the national team at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and finally as a Los Angeles Dodgers’ farmhand.
The Humbers have played together on the Veitch’s Ultramar Hawks in the Corner Brook senior league, 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.
The younger Humber knows the competition in St. John’s this week will be stiff, but figures the Barons should benefit by not being saddled with high expectations.
“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 Barons’ first game is 4 o’clock this afternoon at St. Pat’s Ball Park against Nova Scotia.