By Will Desautelle
Umpire Jamie Perez jogged out to first base to get in position for a consolation game between the Northwest and Europe-Africa team on Tuesday morning. Behind home plate, about 10 rows up his wife, Debbi and son, Tony waved to him as he ran through the infield grass.
Mrs. Perez and Tony have attended every game that Mr. Perez has officiated throughout the 2019 Little League Baseball® World Series. She can be seen wearing several Hawaiian leis and three different Jamie Perez pin designs that she made before coming to Williamsport.
She has made more than 100 leis for the Little League Baseball World Series, which she has given to each of the other 15 umpires on staff, as well as the three pins she made in honor of her husband.
“It’s tradition in Hawaii … Usually as a sign of affection or any sort of celebratory thing, people give you leis and usually a hug or kiss on the cheek and say ‘Aloha’.”
“It’s tradition in Hawaii … Usually as a sign of affection or any sort of celebratory thing, people give you leis and usually a hug or kiss on the cheek and say ‘Aloha’,” Mrs. Perez said. “Once my husband got selected for the World Series, I thought it would be neat to make leis for the other umpires and their family members.”
The Perez family, from Kiheh, Hawaii, did not expect that Mr. Perez would be selected to the Little League World Series this year. Mr. Perez had already known that two umpires from the West Region had been selected and rarely are three umpires from a single region picked to go to Williamsport.
“We were on a cruise with a bunch of West Region umpires, most of them who I’ve known for many years and many who are qualified to be here,” Mr. Perez said. “When I found out there was a third umpire representing the West, I knew a bunch of these guys were waiting for the same honor and I never anticipated it would be me. I was excited, emotional and truly blessed to have my named called.”
The Perez family also was not expecting that a team from their home state would qualify for the Little League World Series. The West Region ticket was not punched until early August but the Perez family knew that Jamie would be working the tournament as an umpire since January.
Like Mrs. Perez, the Hawaii team has given each opposing player a lei during their pregame ceremonies as an expression of gratitude. The umpires and their families have been quite appreciative of the gifts Mrs. Perez has presented to them.
“When we came here to the complex, the umpires were blown away by their leis that I gave them and all the family members have just been in shock that I’ve given them a lei,” Mrs. Perez said. “The venue is great and the excitement is just awesome.”
For Mr. Perez, umpiring the Little League World Series and being able to experience the event with his family has been a dream come true. He and Mrs. Perez have been married for 35 years and he has been umpiring Little League since even before that.
“Williamsport has been amazing and being here at the World Series has truly been a once in a lifetime experience,” Mr. Perez said. “The people have been amazing. Every time I prepare to come out for a game, I find it very emotional. Every game you get introduced, you’re waiting in the dugout and looking out onto the field and looking at all the kids – it gets me choked up.”