SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT – Michael T. Martin and John Mashburn hadn’t seen each other for 10 years, when they were umpires for the 2009 Little League World Series.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience if you’re a Little League umpire,” Martin said. “We’re all kind of like a big family and we have friendships that last for a lifetime.”
After 10 years, Mashburn, of Tennessee, and Martin, of California, met again at the Grand Slam parade. The next day they went to the games and planned to meet up with the rest of the 2009 umpire team.
Mashburn and Martin said they kept in touch over the years through email and Facebook and thought it would be good to meet up for their 10-year anniversary.
The bond between umpires across the globe is strong, Mashburn said. To become a Little League umpire requires a serious commitment to the games throughout the years, volunteering time and expertise on local and regional levels.
“It took me 37 years to get here,” Mashburn said. “We’re old-timers.”
“It’s a long road. Some of us make it and some of us won’t make it,” Martin said.
Over the past 10 years, some key changes have been made at the Series, Martin said. Perhaps the biggest is the addition of instant replay.
“Making those calls, you have to be pretty sharp,” Martin said.
Mashburn, who became legally blind in 2016 from macular degeneration, retired after 45 years as a volunteer umpire in Tennessee.
As Mashburn and Martin watched the parade, they were eager to meet up with their fellow 2009 umpires as well as the current umpires at this year’s series.