Mr. Davis shared his thoughts at the 27th Little League® International Congress.
During the 27th Little League® International Congress in New Orleans in January, Little League Baseball and Softball had the opportunity to sit down with MLB Veteran Umpire Gerry Davis to discuss six questions surrounding his professional career, what Little League means to him, and the importance of volunteering.
First Inning: When you hear the phrase “Little League,” what do you think about?
Years ago, I thought about Williamsport and the grassroots approach. Since I got involved, I’ve realize that this is the largest volunteer organization in the world and it can’t be overstated what Little League has been able to accomplish. When you are dealing with the youth of our nation and the world, you’re shaping the future, and that’s pretty humbling.
Second Inning: Why do you think it is important for umpires to volunteer and get involved, both at the Little League level and above?
There’s no question that it’s an outlet to give back. When I got involved in umpiring, I didn’t know I wanted to be an umpire. I wanted to be a player like everyone else. Then I realized that that dream wasn’t going to become a reality, so I wanted to stay involved with the sport in some capacity. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for someone to give back not only to the sport, but to youth in particular.
Third Inning: What advice would you give to a Little League umpire who is dealing with an unruly fan/parent in the stands?
There are ways to handle that. Mostly, it would be between innings as opposed to stopping and calling attention to it. The biggest thing a Little League umpire can do is point out to a fan that they are volunteers. Without them on the field, that son or daughter would not be able to participate in the sport, so it’s valuable that they are there.
Fourth Inning: Looking back on your career, what made you fall in love with being an umpire?
I never realized I wanted to be an umpire. Even when I went to umpire school, I wasn’t really aware of it, but fell in love with it while I was there. I’ve always been a rules-oriented kind of guy, so I took to that right away. Quite frankly, being an umpire can be very rewarding. The general fan usually only notices when things go wrong and people are booing, and that does happen, but more importantly we are right, and when we are right, it’s pretty rewarding.
Fifth Inning: What advice would you have for the umpires who serve at the Little League World Series?
The way the setup is now, once an umpire goes to the Little League World Series, that’s the last time they are there, so it’s the culmination of all their work to get there. But, I don’t think the umpire has to look at it as that. They can still contribute and go back to their local district to be mentors and contribute to the game. I think it’s important to the game, and to Little League, that they do that.
Sixth Inning: What is something that people can learn about life through being an umpire?
The biggest thing you can learn about life is that there are going to be failures. You’re not going to be successful all the time. You’re going to have to set specific goals and strive to reach them, but you also have to be willing to accept that you’re not always going to be successful. You have to just keep working and keep getting better.
Extra Inning: What is one thing that most people don’t know about being an umpire?
Joe Torre, our President of Baseball Operations, used to share that he didn’t realize that the umpires cared that much. He thought we just made the call and that was the end of it. The truth is that we care about every call and every pitch, and we want to get that right. We know we can’t always do that, but it is always something that we strive for.