Four Umpires from Puerto Rico Will Take Umpire School Information Back Home
For more than 40 years, Little League International has provided a forum for volunteer umpires in the organization to learn the proper techniques and mechanics.
One of the current methods used to train its umpires, the Little League Umpire School, just completed its spring session this week with 25 umpires coming from places around the world.
Four of the people who attended the Umpire School were from Puerto Rico, where Little League enjoys a strong presence. In fact, the unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the Caribbean, ranks behind only Canada and Mexico, in what Little League considers international regions, with nearly 17,000 children playing baseball and softball last year.
With that many children playing Little League baseball or softball, the need for quality umpires is something that is always on the mind of Elbert Albarran, from Yauco, Puerto Rico. Mr. Albarran is one of the four men from Puerto Rico attending the Umpire School.
“I have brought three other umpires from our organization over to the school to learn as much as possible about how to be a good umpire,” Mr. Albarran, who is a ninth grade math teacher, said through interpreter William Flores, an umpire from Bronx, N.Y., who is also attending the school. “We will take back what we have learned, and share that with the rest of our organization, both young and experienced.”
Earning a spot on one of the eight Little League World Series umpiring crews is considered the highest honor the youth baseball organization can bestow on an umpire.
Mr. Albarran, who has been an umpire for 25 years, was a member of the 1996 Little League Baseball World Series umpiring crew and was the second base umpire for the World Championship Game. After working the Series, Mr. Albarran returned to Puerto Rico and decided to form an organization for umpires in the area in which he lived that would alleviate the random way umpires were previously assigned to games.
“Prior to the organization being formed, the umpire for a youth game might have been one of the parents pulled from the crowd, and even more likely, was someone who had no training,” Mr. Albarran said.
Three other members of the Baseball Umpire Association of Yauco (BUAY), the organization started by Mr. Albarran, attended the Umpire School. Juan Galarza, of Villalba, Axel Quiles, of Guanica, and Carlos Aliers, of Peñuelas, are accomplished umpires.
The four umpires from Puerto Rico attending the Little League Umpire School are joined by the staff of instructors. The umpires from Puerto Rico are: (kneeling - left to right) Elbert Albarran, Juan Galarza, Carlos Aliers and Axel Quiles. The instructional staff includes: (standing – left to right) Pete Lloyd, Jim Smith, Tom Rawlings, Don Essex, Mike Messick, Troy Richardson, Mike Sharrow, Sean Guilday.
Mr. Galarza, who is a physical education teacher, was a member of the 2011 Big League Softball World Series umpiring crew and Mr. Aliers, an environmental truck driver, is a graduate of the Academy of Professional Umpiring founded by former Major League Baseball umpire Jim Evans.
The fourth member of the group, Mr. Quiles, has been an umpire for 12 years and is an electrical engineer.
The Baseball Umpire Association of Yauco has 33 umpires that work different levels of baseball and softball. Umpires in the organization work Little League games in Puerto Rico District 10, which includes seven leagues. They also work games for five independent youth leagues along with adult leagues. Mr. Albarran estimated that BUAY supplies umpires to youth leagues with more than 700 players.
“Our goal is to take what we learn at the umpire school back to our organization and share that with the other umpires,” Mr. Galarza, who has been an umpire for 12 years, said. “We hope that information will help our younger umpires improve at a faster rate than normal, and the information will also help our veteran members. It can only help make our organization stronger, and maybe help attract others to become involved.”
The group from Puerto Rico has already reached out to the lead instructor at the umpire school, Mike Messick, inviting him to conduct the school in their native land.
“We would like to have Mike come down to Puerto Rico to conduct a school,” Mr. Albarran said. “Our members would really benefit from hearing directly from Mike on rules interpretations and proper techniques. My hope is that we also will continue to send some of our umpires to the school here in Williamsport each spring.”