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Straight from the World Series umpires

The follow stories come from the Little League World Series umpires as they describe their experience at the 2012 Little League Baseball World Series.

Juan Garza

“Getting to the Little League World Series was a goal for me. Working 100-plus games each year, and getting my hot dog and drink after each game, was my reward.

The appreciation I would get from the kids after each game with the ‘High fives'’ was the highlight of each game. Little League taught me respect to not only the kids, but also the Coaches, League Presidents, their staff and all the parents who took the time to help. My part was small compared to the many volunteers it takes to help each kid reach their goal. Whether it be making it to the playoffs or making it to the World Series.

You must give everything you have, to make every game you umpire like it is the World Series. My biggest reward was to see all the people, volunteers, kids, coaches, parents and my fellow umpires from around the world. We all have the same feeling deep in our hearts to make each and every kid's dreams come true, whether it was on our own hometown field or in Williamsport.

The excitement of just being here filled my love for the game. It is a true honor to be one of 16 umpires from around the world … that truly makes this a World Series. I have met 15 other umpires, and their significant others, of whom I will be friends for life. I will continue to work my games, tell my story, and keep the excitement going years to come. For the once- in-a-lifetime feeling I say, “Thank you, and God bless you all!”’

John Mitchell

“To describe my experience at the 66th annual Little League baseball World Series in a word would be - magical.

Me, and my wife, Barbara, had the time of our lives from the moment we arrived at our hotel in Williamsport until the final goodbyes after the tournament. Walking out onto Lamade Stadium for the first time in front of 20,,000 fans was awe-inspiring and a bit intimidating, but the encouragement that we received from the umpire supervisors and other support staff made this one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

I wish to thank all the umpires that I worked with. I consider all of them more than friends, more like brothers. You, along with your families, helped enrich our lives for 13 days in August. It was an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life.

In my 42 years as a volunteer Little League umpire, I can truly say the sights and sounds, and the thrill of all the 2012 Little League World Series had to offer, were the most amazing things. From the first moment we arrived at the hotel to meet the 16 umpires selected from around the world, to standing in the Little League Headquarters board room looking out the windows toward Lamade Stadium (for which to this day when I think about that special site I still get goose bumps) were beyond any words I can use to describe the feelings. I can truly say that there is nothing like it in the world!

To see it on TV is one thing; but to experience every moment as we did for those two weeks was amazing, overwhelming, exciting, and beyond my wildest imagination, WOW! The 16 teams participating, their coaches and managers, all of the volunteers, the staff of Little League International, the ESPN and ABC crews, our umpire coordinators, and “Dugout,” of course, made this a most incredible event.

The 15 other umpires, and their families, have become part of my family. I am honored to know them, and to call each one of the 2012 Little League baseball World Series umpires, my brothers!”

Bruce Dinkel

“I will always remember the game between Japan and Chinese Taipei, and the special honor of umpiring home plate. The excitement of that game, the thrill of every play, every pitch, and the outstanding baseball played by all those kids, was beyond belief!

Just as it happened to thousands of people there, and I am sure thousands around the world, the team from Uganda will always have a special place in our hearts. What a wonderful group of kids and Henry (Odong, team manager)…well, what can you say about Henry … He was such an inspiration to us all!

To put it into words is so hard to do as there is so much to say, for sure. The best thing I can say to sum it all up is, ‘thank you, Little League,’ for allowing me the highest honor as an umpire (by being part of the 2012 Little League World Series) the memories will never end, and the friendships will last forever!”