Middlesex umpires to call regional tournaments
|Middlesex Little League umpires Don Harris (left) and Stephen Blue (right).|
by Tom Hardin
Two veteran Middlesex Little League umpires, Don Harris and Stephen Blue, have been selected to umpire in upcoming Southern Regional Little League tournaments.
Harris, 52, will umpire in the Senior Little League Softball Southern Regional at Ladysmith, Va., and Blue, 24, will umpire in the Senior Little League Baseball Southern Regional in Viera, Florida.
Few Little League umpires make it this far. Both Harris and Blue were nominated by Middlesex Little League to be considered for the assignment; they were evaluated and approved by the District 15 administrator; and their applications were reviewed and approved by National Little League officials in Williamsport, Pa.
“It’s a small, select group that get to umpire a regional and, if we do well, the next step would be to some day umpire in the Little League World Series,” said Harris. “I know we’d both like to get there. Being selected to umpire a regional is a real building block for the future. It gets our names in the hopper to be considered for a Little League World Series.”
District 15, of which Middlesex is a member, has only had two umpires ever be selected for the World Series—Steve Sisson of Northumber-land in 2007 and Mike Baker of Richmond County in 2008.
“It’s a great honor to be selected to umpire a regional,” said Harris. “We were competing against a lot of other quality umpires for the job, and being picked means we are considered to be among the top umpires in the district.”
The selection process is rigorous. Years of service and experience help, and both Harris and Blue have this. Harris has been umpiring for about 10 years, and Blue since he was only 14.
“It’s a great thrill and honor to be selected,” said Blue. “I really enjoy calling a high level of baseball. It’s very exciting to be part of state and regional championship play.”
Harris is a former player at York Academy who got involved in the Middlesex Little League in the 1990s as a coach and then went into umpiring.
It seems Blue almost grew up on a baseball field. He played in the Middlesex Little League, at Christchurch School, on the VCU Club Team and is now a member of the Deltaville Deltas.
Umpiring is definitely in Blue’s blood. His father Randy is Umpire in Chief for the upcoming Junior Little League State Tournament at the Middlesex Sports Complex and also has umpired at the regional level.
Both Harris and Blue are both certified Virginia High School League (VHSL) umpires. “This is very valuable because of all the training you have to have to become a VHSL umpire,” said Harris.
Harris prefers to umpire girls softball, and Blue prefers baseball. Both were previously selected to umpired in Little League tournaments at the district and state levels.
Blue also has experience as an umpire in the Virginia Baseball League and AAU tournaments. He is a member of the Old Dominion Umpires Association, which is based in Richmond.
Harris is a member of the Richmond Umpires Association and Chesterfield Umpires Association. He also umpired in district and regional high school tournaments, and college softball at the University of Mary Washington.
Harris has been Umpire in Chief of the Middlesex Little League the past five years and a board member for 10 years. As Umpire in Chief, he is responsible for selecting and training local umpires.
Do they get nervous umpiring high-profile games at the district, state and regional level? “There are some pre-game jitters, but like the players, once you get on the field and the action starts, all that goes away,” said Blue.