Little League Umpiring School Hosts First Australian
The Little League International complex in South Williamsport, Pa., is hosting its annual Umpiring School this week, and like the Little League Baseball World Series that is played on the complex each August, there is an international presence among the umpires.
Nine of the 25 umpires attending the school are from Little League international regions. Umpires representing Canada, Puerto Rico and Australia are in attendance at the school.
One the umpires attending the week-long school is Atcheli Richardson from Brisbane, Australia, the first Australian to attend the school.
Mr. Richardson, who works for a gardening supply company, has been an umpire for 12 years working for the last five or those years with Little League Baseball and Softball along with the Australian Baseball Federation.
“I found out about the umpire school last year, but it was too late to enroll,” Mr. Richardson said. “As soon as I found out I was too late for the 2011 school, I called to reserve my spot for this year.
“I do a lot of observing and critiquing of umpires in Australia. This school will provide me with the information I need to know from correct techniques in the mechanics of umpiring to the interpretation and implementation of the rules.”
Mr. Richardson, who serves on a panel that is formulating the Australian Little League Development Program for umpires, found baseball while attending high school in Australia and has loved the game ever since.
He played youth baseball, and some at the adult level, before spending several years managing on both the youth and club level as well as with adult teams. Umpiring is now the avenue used by Mr. Richardson to stay “in touch” with the game he loves.
“This camp is perfect for me, it is not so long that I miss too much work, but is long enough that I will get a well-rounded experience that I can then go back and share with the umpires in Australia,” Mr. Richardson, who has been married to wife, Miricel, for 12 years, said.
Little League has had a presence in Australia for only the last five years, and the game of baseball is still an emerging sport in the country where cricket, football (soccer) and rugby have long been the equivalent of football, basketball and baseball in the U.S.
“Everything I learn at this umpiring school will be communicated to the umpires back in Australia which will improve our pool of umpires,” Mr. Richardson said. “Umpiring is something most people can continually work at improving, whether it is in the area of technique, administration, or rules. It is something that is continually changing.”
Mike Messick, who was named the 2010 Little League Volunteer of the Year, is the chief instructor at the school and is assisted by six other veteran Little League umpires. They conduct daily on-field training sessions along with classroom instruction at the school. Mr. Messick, a Pennsville, N.J. native, has been an umpire for 30 years and has been an instructor at the school for 21 years.
“We want the umpires who attend the school to leave with not only the proper foundation to be an umpire, but also a greater knowledge of the rules and a better understanding of the proper techniques and mechanics,” Mr. Messick said.
Little League Baseball and Softball conducts its week-long umpiring school in April each year while several other weekend schools are held in the spring and fall each year. The present session of the umpire school will run through Friday.