Randy Smith: Calling All Umpires

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
There is a nation wide shortage of high school sports officials, that's a plain and simple fact. In California for instance there are many prep baseball and softball games played with just one umpire. It happens in other states as well and even in upper east Tennessee, there are many games played with a single ump. In Chattanooga the problem isn't quite that severe. Only a handful of middle school games have been played with one umpire and according to local TSSAA baseball assigner Ralph Chambers, there has never been a high school game played with a single official under his watch. 

There has been a shortage of officials in all sports for quite a while now, and yes that includes Chattanooga.
  While there is always a small group of first year umpires coming in each year, age catches up with several of the veterans and they are forced to retire. In other words we need more and more new men and women each and every season.

Recently, the TSSAA had a chance to help alleviate the shortage problem by moving girls softball to the fall. That way several of the baseball umpires could help with softball and vice versa. There are already a few umpires who register in both sports anyway, including yours truly. By splitting the seasons as they do already in Georgia it may have helped to solve the problem in Tennessee. Now however, we must find other solutions. Also think about some of the cross-state match ups we could have seen.

We need dedicated young men and women to get involved. While you do get paid, the money is not great. A good umpire can make roughly $2000 per season, which lasts about two and a half months. So if you do get involved do it for the right reasons. Help inspire young high school athletes by giving them your time. We really need more women to get involved not only in softball but in baseball as well. After all, women are already officiating in the NBA and in minor league baseball so why not local sports?

I have worked with several women in softball and they have always been fabulous.

The weekly winter training sessions begin on January 8th at 6:00 at Notre Dame high school. There are sessions every Monday evening through February with the seasons starting in mid-March. Each weekly session lasts about an hour with training for the newcomers handled by veteran umpires. This year there is no exam to take to register with the state. The tests were decided to be counter-productive to retaining good umpires and that's most definitely a move in the right direction.  There are also a few pre-season play days or tournaments to not only get the players ready but get the umpires ready to go as well. 

I know what some of you are thinking, "Why should I go on the field and take the abuse fro/m coaches and fans while getting paid a small amount of money? That's a viable question but in the eight years that I have umpired baseball and softball games on the high school level, I have seen very very few examples of abuse. I have yet to eject a coach in a high school game and I have done hundreds of games since I joined the association in 2010.

So, I challenge former players, both male and female to get back in the sport you love and give back. You will be glad you did.  

* * *

Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer.  His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for 30 years. He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga television for more than a quarter-century. In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith. They have five grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, Mattingly, DellaMae, and CoraLee.



PREP SCHEDULES

FOOTBALL     FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19 Father Ryan at Baylor Bradley at William Blount Brainerd at Tyner Central at Hixson Notre Dame at Chattanooga Christian Cleveland at Ooltewah East Hamilton at Anderson Co. East Ridge at Howard Grace at Mt. Juliet Christian Sunbright at Lookout Valley Loudon at Marion ... (click for more)

Trio Of Dalton State Golfers In Top Five As Dalton State Takes Team Lead Into Final Round

#12 Dalton State got off to a hot start and kept the momentum going throughout the afternoon firing a two round total of (-11, 565) and sits in first place heading into the final round of the Bojangles Tennessee Intercollegiate at Tennessee National Golf Club in Loudon, Tenn. The Roadrunners hold a 12 shot lead over (RV) Truett-McConnell (Ga.) in second at (+1, 577). #13 Point ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Airport Has Biggest Month Yet; Work May Start Next Year On Parking Deck With 1,300 Spaces

The Chattanooga Airport set a record in September with 44,000 enplanements, the highest ever for one month. This was an increase of nine percent over September 2017, and deplanements were in line, said Terry Hart president and CEO. He said that more parking is needed near the terminal to keep up with the growth. The 20-year master plan includes a parking deck with around 1,300 ... (click for more)

Man, 72, Dies In Highway 58 Crash Due To Medical Issue

A 72-year-old man was killed in a wreck on Highway 58 on Monday afternoon. At approximately 4:40 p.m., the Chattanooga Police Department's Traffic Unit responded to the 5500 block of Highway 58. It was found that a Subaru was traveling south on Highway 58 when it left the roadway and came to rest against a tree stump. The driver was found to be unresponsive and was transported ... (click for more)

Why Are Joda Thongnopnua And Phil Bredesen Downplaying Their Democratic Values?

For the past several months, the Democratic Party has reached a tipping point. “Their Resistance” is to oppose anything and everything Republicans are doing to deliver a stronger economy and better economic opportunities for all Americans.  Yet, I find it very interesting that the public outcry we are seeing from the Democrats on a national level is nowhere to be found when ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: It’s ‘Tennessee Week’

For over 50 years I have heard the line, “There are two things you must never do on ‘The Third Saturday of October.’ You mustn’t ever marry and try not to die because, in either case, the preacher won’t show up.” He’ll be watching “The Game.” Ever since Oct 18, 1901, Tennessee and Alabama have been going at it and that inaugural game set the tone as well as the standard for all ... (click for more)