Michael Shutler Named 2009 Little League Volunteer of the Year
Michael Shutler has been a volunteer in Michigan District 3 for more than 30 years, and currently serves as Assistant District Administrator and Umpire-In-Chief, but it is his efforts at many levels of the Little League program that have brought Mr. Shutler to be honored as Little League’s Volunteer of the Year during the 63rd Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Pa., this August.
“There are a bunch of tight-lipped people in my district, because I knew nothing about being nominated for this award until I got the letter saying I had won,” Mr. Shutler said. “Personally, I feel there are a lot of people in my district, and around the world, who do more for Little League than me.
“I never thought it would be me,” Mr. Shutler said. “It’s the type of award you’d like to hand out to thousands of deserving volunteers. I like being with the kids, and I meet hundreds of great people who are even more dedicated than I am.”
The Little League Volunteer of the Year award recognizes the selfless efforts of more than one million volunteers at the grass-roots level of the Little League program. To his credit, Mr. Shutler has displayed a tireless commitment to his home league, Jackson (Mich.) North Little League and Michigan District 3.
“Thirty-three years ago, Mike started as a manager for his son’s Little League team, but he was quickly identified as a calm, decisive and fair parent when he’d be asked to come out of the stands to umpire games,” Bruce Barton, Michigan District 3 Administrator, said. “Mike’s wife, Fran said, ‘He came to realize how umpires were needed to make the game fun for the kids.’ He studied the Little League rulebook, cover to cover, and through the 1980’s was called on continually to umpire at all levels of Little League Baseball.”
The best part of this award is that the people who nominated Mike were people that served on the Jackson North Little League Board of Directors and people from Michigan District 3 staff who have worked with him.
“The motivation to become a Little League volunteer varies from person to person, but the common tie is the willingness to get involved and give freely of one’s time without expecting even a ‘thank you,’” Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “For Mr. Shutler to take on such an array of responsibilities, and do so as an umpire at so many different levels, is certainly admirable.”
Aside from his regular-season duties as Assistant Michigan District 3 Administrator, Mr. Shutler has volunteered as Senior Assistant District Administrator, District Umpire Consultant, local league Treasurer, manager and coach.
“As a coach, Mike set a good example of sportsmanship and fair play, and his players thought the world of him,” Jeri Snitchler, 32-year volunteer in Jackson North Little League, said.
“I started coaching in Minors and after getting thoroughly whipped in my first game my next step was to start reading the rulebook,” Mr. Shutler said. “When my son was playing Majors, I would umpire because I was a coach and the other coaches knew I knew the rules.”
“In my view, Mike is a great representative for Little League,” John Taylor, former Jackson North Little League President, said.
“I always admire the way Mike tells the young volunteer umpires that they must now become the adult, because many of the coaches they will be working with will have once again slipped into their childhood,” Ken Murray, Mr. Shutler’s friend and fellow volunteer umpire, said. “Umpiring with Mike is like working with a gentle giant.”
Over several years in his capacity as the district’s umpire consultant, and later as, District Umpire-in-Chief (UIC), Mr. Shutler has umpired a many levels of Little League Baseball and Softball, and made it clear that he wishes to umpire only on Little League.
To his credit, Mr. Shutler has to his umpiring credit: the 1999 Little League Softball World Series, 1998 Little League Softball Central Region Tournament, 1997 Junior League Baseball Central Region Tournament, and the 1995 Little League Baseball Great Lakes Region Tournament, along with a variety of state level tournaments, at which he served as UIC.
“My mentality for volunteering is simple: Do what’s good for the kids.” Mr. Shutler said. “There is no other reason to go out there and get hot and sweaty except for the kids.
“I umpire Minors through Senior Baseball,” Mr. Shutler said. “When it stops being about the kids, we should all go home and watch TV or mow the lawn.”
The Little League Volunteer of the Year Award, established in 1989, was designed to provide local leagues an opportunity to honor a deserving individual with this prestigious distinction. This honor is recognized as the most important and visible of the Little League Baseball and Softball award programs.
“Mr. Shutler’s service to the Jackson North Little League, and the other leagues in Michigan District 3, is a testament to his sense of duty on behalf of the children, his league and district,” Mr. Keener said. “Such commitment makes him worthy of this recognition and a well-deserving recipient of the Little League Volunteer of the Year Award.”