On a breezy spring evening, Chris Paplanus donned his umpire gear to work the plate at a girls softball game at the Chesterfield Valley Athletic Complex. It was a long first inning, with the 14-year-old pitchers on both teams struggling mightily. Each time Paplanus called a strike — Hup! — the sidelines erupted in supportive cheers.
By day, Paplanus, 60, is an autoworker at the General Motors Assembly plant in Wentzville, where he began working after a life-changing layoff a decade ago.