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East Texas sees umpire shortage amid high school baseball, softball playoffs

As the softball and baseball playoffs continue, high school officials are getting creative to make sure each game has umpires.

TYLER, Texas — We are deep into the high school playoff season. 

Softball is entering the regional quarterfinals while baseball is headed into the area round of the postseason. As these games are being scheduled, one thing coaches have to keep in mind is the scarcity of umpires.

“We just wrapped up the first week of playoffs," Tyler TASO umpires chapter president Brian Chinn said. "There were some playoff games where we were actually short some officials and had to make some adjustments. They normally use four umpires in the playoffs. Sometimes we had some that only had three, or some that only had two.”

A major reason for the umpire shortage is parental conduct, when a call doesn't go their way.

“We had a game earlier this year where a couple of fans threatened one of our umpires," Chinn said "They actually threatened to meet them in the parking lot afterwards.”

The shortage isn't just affecting East Texas, but nationwide.

"It would be like people coming to your job and standing or sitting beside you yelling at you all day," Chinn explained. "How effective are you going to be at your job? And is that going to bother you? Of course. So what happens is people go, 'Well, this isn't my full time job. So I don't really have to do this. I don't have to take that.' And they aren't getting into the profession, or they're leaving.”

There are benefits to becoming an umpire. Officiating a game can earn you between $80-$110 and that amount can double if you work a double-header in the playoffs.

As for the conduct, Chinn says what helps are the coaches who has a non nonsense policy for berating officials, like Bullard head baseball coach, Robert Ellis.

“He has been one of our best advocates," Chinn said. "He's actually gone so far as in a game, if a parent starts yelling at an umpire, he will remove the parent and the kid from the field and tell him to go home.”

Coach Ellis played professional baseball for 20 years. For a man who’s career depended on those calls, he emphasizes that in high school, it’s just a game.

“We're trying to teach them life lessons, they're going to go into a job and have to know how to deal with the opinions of others," Ellis said. "And validate their opinions and lift people up and make the people around them better.”

If you would like to apply to be an umpire, you can do so here.

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