Shortage of umpires affecting baseball and softball games this season

SPOKANE, Wash. — Kids this summer are stepping up to the plate ready to play ball, but this year there’s not enough umpires to make the call.

With a condensed season, and many sports making up because of COVID, baseball and softball lost many umpires to other sports.

“Normally you have enough umpires, to where you can schedule two weeks out,” said Kerry Kelly, assistant baseball assigner for the Spokane Baseball Association.  “It feels like every single day, that morning I’m trying to put together a puzzle and make it work.”

Not knowing the exact reason, he explained there are a lot of COVID-related causes as to why there is a shortage of umpires.

“I think it could be a life change kind of thing where they decided they were not comfortable being out during COVID,” Kelly said. “Lives may be impacted where their jobs, they had to relocate, I really don’t know the answer.”

For Spokane Indian Youth Baseball, President Dana Richardson says it’s affecting the kids.

“We don’t always know ahead of time, but we ask them [coaches] to be prepared with a parent, or an assistant coach or somebody to step in because when there is no umpire there, it really just take away from the game and what kids experience and what the player experience,” he said.

The kids are the reason, Kelly explained, umpires are being spread out thin right now.

“It’s all about the kids, so we’re doing some things out of the norm that we probably wouldn’t do,” he said.

Umpires right now are burnt out, exhausted by a season of filling-in for more games than usual.

“Sometimes this year, the umpires that we do have are working a lot, we get burned out at the end of the season,” said Jeff Camp, secretary of the Softball Umpire’s Association. “We need a little break. Fewer umpires are working fewer games is what it amounts to.”

It hasn’t been enough to cancel games, but both baseball and softball hope to recruit more umpires this fall season. For softball, Camp explained, a lack of umpires will affect them this fall.

Softball umpire training is free. It is available as a part-time position, and even young teenagers are accepted. If interested, you can click here.

Also, if you’re interested in umpiring for baseball, you can email bfrancis@savavb.org or KoachKelly@gmail.com.