Little League Baseball World Series Ump Tunes Up at LLI Umpire School
“I don’t think I’m going to wear out my shoes, I’m still walking on air.”
That’s how Chuck Latini, a U.S. postal clerk from Ewing, N.J., has been gliding ever since he got the news that he was going to be umpiring in the 2013 Little League Baseball World Series. And in between designing his own pins to trade at the series and getting pens made with all the details to hand out to friends, Latini decided to make an early trip to Howard J. Lamade Stadium to brush up on his umping skills.
“There is a reason why umpires head to Florida and Arizona for spring training, just like the major leaguers do,” Mr. Latini said. “This is a big year for me, and I wanted to make sure I started this season on the right page.”
Little League hosts umpire schools and clinics at Little League International in Williamsport, Pa. and throughout the nation at its regional centers. These clinics and schools allow umpires to learn the most current and accurate rulings directly from the Little League Baseball and Softball staff. It’s something that Mr. Latini thought was vital as he heads to Williamsport this summer.
“No matter how good I think I am, or how many games I umpire, it is always good to hear from umpires with the same or more experience about how I might be able to improve,” Mr. Latini said.
Finding umpires with more experience is hard to do. Mr. Latini started volunteering with Little League as a coach for his sons, but realized that what they really needed were more umpires. He began umpiring in the late 1970s, and in his 33 years as a volunteer, he has worked multiple state and regional tournaments, and umpired in both the Little League Softball and Senior League Softball World Series.
“Umpiring is like real estate, it is a lot about location, location, location, but it’s also about timing, timing, timing,” Mr. Latini said. “You need to keep asking yourself if you’re going slow enough. Is he really out or safe? Is it a ball or a strike? You have to remind yourself to let the play unfold and not rush to a call.”
Mr. Latini will bring what he learns at umpire school to his local leagues in New Jersey, as he amps up for the big show in Williamsport this August. It will be hardly Mr. Latini’s first time to the World Series, though. Lawrence Little League, Mr. Latini’s local league, usually organizes a mini-bus for people to come watch the action at Lamade Stadium, something Mr. Latini and his family have taken advantage of. This year, though, Lawrence Little League is chartering a big bus.
“Everyone keeps telling me that they’re coming to support me this year,” Mr. Latini said. “They’re saying ‘We’re here for the blue.’”