Got What It Takes to Be a World Series Umpire?
Have you ever watched one of Little League’s World Series events, and wondered, “How do you become a World Series Umpire?” It’s certainly a distinguished honor, but to get there, you need to be committed to the challenge, and that begins at the local level. Everyone knows that you can’t have a game without the umpire, and to get in the game you must first take the important step of volunteering. With time and training a World Series assignment could be in your future.
For a person to be selected to umpire a World Series is a special achievement. There are nine World Series Tournaments that Little League® operates each year. For those umpires who work the Little League Baseball® World Series, they become members of a special fraternity, because that is their one and only opportunity to officiate in South Williamsport. It’s literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
To get the call to umpire a World Series begins with the local District Administrator (D.A.). The D.A. is tasked with recommending an umpire within his/her district to work in the Little League International Tournament, beginning with the District Tournament level. The first step toward consideration is taken by the umpire, who must complete and submit the Little League Baseball and Softball Tournament Umpire Request Form to their D.A.
Then it’s up to the D.A. to decide if the requesting umpire is “ready.” Being ready typically means plenty of formal training and games, quality mechanics and experience. A Regional or World Series assignment is NOT a reward for years of service.
Little League’s Regional Directors, with consultation from their Regional Umpires-in-Chief (U.I.C.s), select the umpires to work in both Regional and World Series tournaments for the next tournament season. These decisions are made in November.
Last spring, Little League introduced the World Series Umpire Orientation Program to familiarize the Little League Baseball World Series umpire crew with the World Series fields, the Little League International facility and the complexity of working a game on one of ESPN’s networks. The orientation welcomed 16 umpires (one representing each Little League region) to Little League International. The weekend-long event received rave reviews and plans are already being made to welcome next year’s crew.
Any umpire selected to work a regional tournament will receive an evaluation during the tournament from one or more evaluators designated by the Tournament Director. An umpire can receive one of two recommendations on the evaluation: "Recommend working another Regional Tournament" or "Recommend a World Series." Once an umpire has earned a World Series recommendation, he/she must indicate that they wish to be considered for selection to a World Series by submitting the Little League Baseball and Softball Tournament Umpire Request Form each year using the same process mentioned earlier.
Regional Directors will submit their World Series Umpire recommendations to Little League International for confirmation and notification. The timetables for receiving notification to work either a Regional or World Series can vary greatly depending on the division. Only volunteer umpires that contribute to their local league during the regular season are considered for Regional and World Series Tournaments.
Attending formal training at a Regional Center or at Little League International in Pennsylvania is an important component of being a successful volunteer umpire. It becomes even more critical when becoming a World Series umpire is part of the consideration.
As you can see, the process is challenging, but very rewarding.
"The Williamsport experience far exceeded my expectations," said Mark Merchant, from Nederland, Texas, a professor at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La., and a 2014 Little League Baseball World Series Umpire. "The atmosphere is absolutely electric at the Little League Baseball World Series. Everyone is excited, everyone is in a good mood. I had the unique opportunity of serving during the 75th Anniversary celebration, and thus all of the fanfare and festivities associated with this event made it even more special."
Remember, choosing to be a Little League Volunteer Umpire is ultimately about giving back to the community and providing children with the opportunity to play the games of baseball and softball in a safe environment. Actually umpiring the game is the cherry on top of an incredible experience.