ROCKTON, Ill. (WTVO) — Baseball and softball youth leagues across the country and here in the Stateline are facing an issue with a lack of available umpires.
“Obviously, there’s a bigger need because we have a lot more players, we have a lot more teams, which means a lot more games. And unfortunately, not only have we a greater need, but we’ve also lost quite a few in terms of umpires,” said Ryan Rydell president of Stateline Baseball.
Anyone can start umping as young as 13, for many an opportunity at their first job. As well as a chance to get to know the sport better.
“As a baseball player, you just want to play baseball. You don’t want to look at all the rules and stuff. But being an actual umpire, you understand all. So that would have been a strike. But I can’t see that from when I’m in the batter’s box. I understand to give umpires more leniency now,” said Dom Yalden a 17-year-old umpire for the Stateline Baseball League.
Rydell has run Stateline Baseball for more than a decade. He’s seeing fewer youth umps due to problems with parents.
“We have had issues with parents that just get too vocal, and that’s turned away a lot of our younger umpires. They are timid and they’re just learning. A lot of these rules. They’re just they’re putting themselves out there with many times their first job and they get a lot of pressure from older people that they learn to respect for so long,” Rydell said.
Stateline Baseball has signs all over its fields promoting good sportsmanship. One reads, “The umpire is human, we all make mistakes like when we claim to have seen a play better from 100 ft away or when we think screaming at a teenager will ever make them see things our way.”
“Over the years, we’ve done a really good job of training our umpires, but also educating our parents and coaches that the league is going to support our umpires. But we’re also going to educate them and we’re going to educate our parents and our coaches on the rules and how to respect the sport at its foundation. So we keep the spirit of what baseball is about, what community baseball is all about,” said Rydell.
If interested in umpiring for Stateline Baseball pay starts at 30$ a game. Ages range from 13 and up. You can visit their website for registration.