Murnahan to umpire SL softball World Series
Published 9:37 am Saturday, July 28, 2018
What started out of a necessity has turned into a crowning achievement in Gary Murnahan’s umpiring career.
Somewhat forced into umpiring while still playing in a summer baseball league, more than 30 years later Murnahan will be calling his first National Little League World Series games when the girls Senior League softball tournament gets underway this week in Delaware.
“A long time ago when I was still playing Big League baseball (16-18 year olds) they were needing some umpires during one of our games. I actually started coaching that year because we didn’t have a coach. Me and a couple of other guys started umpiring and it kind of progressed from there and I stuck with it,” said Murnahan.
Although it has been about 30 years total of little league umpiring, there was a period when Murnahan took a break to watch and coach his son and daughter when it came their turn to play in the youth leagues.
After his children graduated, Murnahan picked up where he left off umpiring and added high school games as well.
There will be teams representing the regions of Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Canada, Europe-Africa, US Regions-East, Southeast, Central, West, Southwest and the host team Delaware.
The 12 umpires will represent the Central, East, Southeast, Southwest and West regions of the United States along with Canada and Latin America.
Umpires usually call two or three games a day at the World Series. Murnahan said the exact game schedule won’t be available until Sunday evening.
The World Series will utilize two fields for pool play and the 12 umpires assigned to the tournament will split the duties. There will be four-man umpire crews at each game until the semifinals and championship games when six will be used in each game.
“There’s a couple of days in pool play when there might be more than three games,” said Murnahan.
Murnahan has umpired at higher level tournament games in the past. Besides district and state tournaments, he has also umpired at the regional level.
“I’ve done regionals in senior league softball in South Bend, Indiana. Junior girls in Chicago last year. ASA softball, travel ball for years,” he said. And even though he had always hoped of getting a World Series assignment, he was still stunned when the official word arrived this year.
“Well, it was kind of a shock. You do the things you need to do and sometimes it takes forever to get an assignment. You have to do districts and regionals and state to even qualify. Your district administrator has to recommend you and your Central Region director has to recommend you,” said Murnahan.
“Once you do that, the (National Little League) reviews all the applications and picks them from there. When you do you’re your regional especially and even the district and state level, you get evaluated.
“At the regional level, you know you’re getting evaluated. At the district and state, you really don’t know who your evaluators could be. Usually it’s the D.A. (district administrator).
“At the last regional I did, the evaluations I got recommended I was ready for a World Series and that helped.”
Murnahan admitted he had some mixed emotions when he was informed of his assignment. So after all his years of experience and levels of umpiring, was he nervous?
“Hell yeah. But I’m excited. That’s what you work hard for. It’s just like when I was playing ball. I get nervous before every game,” said Murnahan.
“I was telling some young guys when we were doing the young girls 11-and-12 state tournament this year. We (the umpires) were standing around talking before a game and I said, ‘I’m getting nervous.’ A younger guy said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘Oh yeah. The day I quit getting nervous guys it’s time for me to hang my shoes up.’”
The tournament will begin with meetings and a banquet on Sunday and then games will be played all week. The championship game will air on ESPN.
“It’ll probably go quick. Once you get there, it’s non-stop. You don’t have a lot of time to think. Your years of training and years of experience keep you on the straight and narrow. That’s the beauty of having a lot of experience. If I was 10, 15, 20 years younger, I’d probably be pulling my hair out now,” he said with a laugh.
Murnahan did take a moment to reflect on one particular memory in his long career. Ironically, it happened just last year during the Junior League girls’ state softball tournament that was held in South Point.
“One that wills stay with me a long time happened just last year. I got to umpire a team from Poland, Ohio, (Poland) beat Wheelersburg to win the state. I got (Poland) the next week in the regionals. They went on to the World Series. That stands out in terms of one I’m proud of,” said Murnahan.
Now it’s time for some even more memorable moments.