Camrose struggle for umpires heightens
Posted May 23, 2013
For several years Camrose has struggled for umpires and now the situation has reached epic proportions.
The only umpire willing to do games at the men’s level it seemed was Doug Bowie who has umped for dozens and dozens of years all over the Battle River and Powerline Leagues and is highly respected. A recent injury has put him on the sidelines and the Roadrunners are now scrounging for crews.
A game last week required an emergency umpire. There are Twitter rumours this man will not return due to treatment he received during the game. This has put the games in Camrose in peril for the rest of the year and left the team in a tough spot to find crews for the remainder of the lengthy season, said player-coach Josh Banack.
Looking for sustainable solutions
In early 2010, this author contacted Camrose umpire coordinator John Lake about this foreseen situation, who told the league to have the players or friends get certified and ump their own games since the city of Edmonton supplies all the umpires for Bantam and higher in Camrose and, inaccurately thought the league was not a member of Baseball Alberta. This is pretty much what Camrose attempted given the emergency situation.
This is one solution – which may or may not sit well with league reps and the current list of quality umpires who we value. We could have non-playing teams ump the games each night for example at no cost, which is what I’m told a lot of Battle River teams do.
Would we want to look at doing this for all our games?
However, until this year, we’ve fought our way through with these several local crews. Armena worked a deal with some Sherwood Park umpires to have them coordinate and provide guys at what many in the league would say is a hefty fee. For example, for Camrose to do something similar out of the city would cost almost $200 per game.
Epidemic coming perhaps
We can all brush off the Camrose situation as a fluke and not our problem, but if you take a close look at each of our situations, you can see we’re perilously sitting on a precipice possibly of whether the current league model with paid umpires who are carded, is possible to sustain. If one or two guys left or went down or even quit, where would be?
Less guys seem interested to risk their health, their pride and waste their nights with us in a field filled with mosquitos. Those that do come out may take an abnormal amount of abuse for the pay and quality of baseball. Trust me, as a hockey official I said no to this level of hockey pretty early in my career. I really admire and respect these guys that come do our games, and keep that in mind when I disagree with a call.
Some of us have speculated the end of the league could occur due to lack of players. Could we perhaps reach a point where it’s actually lack of umpires? Which will come first? Will we have to adapt? And by adapt I mean both in the game, and off the field in administration, finances and philosophy.
Big questions early in the season to ponder.