Paul Brown’s umpiring career spans five decades and includes every sort of competition from collegiate fast pitch to the USSSA 16-inch World to Class A 12-inch NITs and Sunday afternoon rec leagues.
Brown started umpiring fast pitch in 1962. Starting in the mid-70s, Brown took his keen eye and command of the game’s rules to the slow pitch sport that was fast gaining popularity. He was, says his son Jeff, “quick to embrace it.” He especially liked slow pitch, said Jeff, because it gave every player a chance to be involved and have fun.
Approaching his 65th birthday and still active after a quarter century in USSSA softball, Brown has umpired nearly every State Tournament played in Rockford and the surrounding area in that time. By Jeff’s rough estimate, Brown has umpired some 7,000 games.
A former State Umpire-In-Chief, Brown has also conducted numerous umpire clinics over the same period.
“I can only say it’s a real honor,” Brown said, not that he got into the game for any honors. “I didn’t then and I don’t now do it for any honors. I got into it because I love oding it – the games and the people.”
Of his induction into the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame, “This is just a bonus. I appreciate it, but it isn’t going to change my way of doing things.”
Jeff shared an anecdote that reflects both his father’s dedication and his toughness.
“One Saturday, he was behind the plate and a player swung a 2-piece bat. It separated and hit my dad. He was knocked out cold and taken to the hospital,” Jeff said. “On Sunday, he was behind the plate for the championship game.”
Jeff thinks his father’s success as an umpire is greatly due to the fact that he knows the game is fundamentally about players enjoying competition.
“He always prided himself on just trying to enhance that enjoyment,” Jeff said.
He held a deep respect for the players, coaches and fellow umpires and it showed through his work.
“His reward has always come from doing the job well and seeing people enjoy the game,” Jeff said.
The Illinois USSSA is pleased to return a measure of that respect to Paul Brown as it welcomes him in the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame.