Volunteer umpires gather for spring training

By Merja H. Lehtinen - ReminderNews
Windsor Locks - posted Thu., Mar. 22, 2012
Umpire-in-Chief Ray Romero of Windsor prepares to address new umpires. Photos by Merja H. Lehtinen.
Umpire-in-Chief Ray Romero of Windsor prepares to address new umpires. Photos by Merja H. Lehtinen.

More than two dozen Windsor Locks Little League umpires, ages 13 to 63, gathered at Town Hall on March 17 for annual spring training to preside over softball and baseball season.

The group, made up of volunteers from several local towns, was greeted by Windsor Locks umpire-in-chief Mark Doody, who was joined by colleagues and daughter Karen Doody, league secretary Bill Sartori and Ray Romero to train the umpires for the upcoming season. Romero is the umpire-in-chief for Windsor.

The team planned to teach new rules for the 2012 season that may have changed from last season, and put some of the younger umpires through the paces of calling tough plays.

The umpires also practiced stances and standing positions. A PowerPoint presentation on a full-sized screen was used to deliver the 2012 spring season baseball and softball rules for Little League players that the umpires must know and enforce.

Umpires have to present themselves as mature and fair role models, said Mark Doody. Although the league has some children training as umpires as young as 10 years old, they do not usually preside over a field until they reach 13. “It would defeat the purpose,” said Doody. “We want to set an example, and give the younger children someone to look up to. Just those few years of seniority of a 13-year-old over a 10-year-olds' team make a difference.”

Not everyone starts being an umpire so young, In fact, a retired Combustion Engineering employee, Curt Whitaker, 61, said he started driving a school bus as a post-retirement job. That led to meeting students he transported daily to school or away games. Before he knew it, he was following the team results and attending games when he decided to get involved, as the teams and players needed more umpires and volunteers. Whitaker draws on his own past as a sports participant, and knows that the young Little League teams cannot have games unless there are enough volunteers to umpire.

Mark Moody's daughter, Karen Doody, was not the only female umpire in the room, and she credits her father's passion with her involvement. John Ahern, who plays baseball himself, serves as an umpire for younger children at the middle school. The Carlson family is also involved with Little League as umpires, with Carissa volunteering at the snack cart, and as treasurer does fundraising for the batting cages, while Joshua, 14, is an umpire.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Little League now or in future seasons, call umpire-in-chief Mark Doody at 860-209-7402 or league secretary Bill Sartori at 860-386-6025.

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