SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The spring sports season is underway and the need for baseball and softball umpires is greater than ever.
The grass is starting to green at Harmodon Park in Sioux Falls. The complex will host thousands of baseball and softball games this year, and every contest needs umpires.
“I’ve never heard anybody say what are we going to do with all these extra umpires,” South Dakota Umpires Association Secretary Jesse Devine said.
Jesse Devine started working baseball games at age 17.
“It got to a point where I realized I was a better umpire than a player, so I switched sides,” Devine said.
Devine says he paid his way through college as an umpire. He’ll work approximately 50-60 games this summer, but says the sky’s the limit.
“When I was in college, I worked six, seven days a week and worked 150-plus games and by August I was tired of baseball (laugh),” Devine said.
Jerry Bills played fastpitch softball for 35 years before becoming a softball umpire. He retired after 17 years behind the plate, but continues the search for new umpires.
“14, 15, 13 years old, maybe even a little younger, all the way to adults that used to play or college kids that need a part-time job because it is a good part-time job,” Deputy Umpire-In-Chief Jerry Bills said.
Bills says it can be a thankless job, but you’re always in demand.
“Everybody’s looking for officials, doesn’t matter what sport it is, you can’t play the game without an umpire,” Bills said.
“We’ve got guys that are in their mid-70’s and we’ve got guys that are 14, 15, 16 years old,” Devine said.
Devine calls it a labor of love and is willing to share his umpiring knowledge.
“We’ll provide some training, we’ll provide some assistance with trying to find some equipment and uniforms and try and point you in the right direction to get you on the field,” Devine said.
The Sioux Empire Fastpitch Softball Association is hosting an umpire registration event Saturday from 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. at Sherman Park.
Click HERE if you’d like information on becoming a baseball umpire.