Umpire sweeping dirt off home plate
Baseball and softball umpires are needed. (Photo by Getty Images)

The Oregon School Activities Association in recent years has issued a series of news releases related to the shortage of officials in various sports. It’s an ongoing topic that I wrote in depth about once during my days reporting for another Philomath news publication.

A few weeks ago, in a joint release from the OSAA and the Oregon Athletic Officials Association, the recruitment of spring sports officials continued in an announcement that states “an immediate need for umpires in baseball and softball.”

The registration period for baseball and softball umpires ends April 22. If you’re interested, visit osaa.org/officials for more information. If you’re ready to register, go to that webpage and click on the registration tab.

The release focused on the need for umpires but officials are also needed for other spring sports — track and field, tennis and golf.

“Oregon has an urgent need for officials in all sports,” Jack Folliard, OAOA executive director said in a release. “Officials provide valuable service to high schools and students, make a positive impact in the community and build relationships.”

That’s true and it’s those types of comments you get in a press release. But the point here is that umpires are needed to call balls and strikes and rule on stolen bases and plays at the plate.

The organizations provided three good reasons for getting involved in officiating:

• You can stay involved in athletics.

• You can maintain good physical condition.

• And you can earn some money.

Did I ever share with you the time I officiated softball? Probably not. During the summer of 2002 when I lived at the Grand Canyon, I badly injured both quads while sprinting down to first base on an infield hit. You see, I would occasionally forget that I was no longer a high school sprinter (placed at state in 1983) or leadoff hitter for the baseball team (played on an American Legion state runner-up team also in 1983) and that in reality, I was 36 and out of shape.

Anyway, in an embarrassing moment, I had to be carried off the field. I’m making fun of myself here but actually, it was really painful. I had to take pain medication that night. But for the next few games, I was recruited to serve as the umpire.

During one of those games, there was a close play at third base. It was an important moment in a close game. I didn’t see it. Plain and simple. Players from both sides yelled at me. I never officiated again. But hey, that was an isolated predicament that I found myself in during a recreational summer softball league.

Don’t let that sort of story keep you from registering to become a high school baseball or softball umpire (or an official in another sport). The men and women that contribute to athletics through officiating should be commended.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at News@PhilomathNews.com).