Like many umpires, Thornton began umpiring when his playing days were over. Thornton participated with a 16” team named the Crusaders at Rosenbloom Park under the direction of Leonard McKinnon and USSSA program director Les Duncan. He retired and began umpiring 16” softball. After a few years, he began umpiring Fastpitch softball in Crete, Illinois, under the direction of Frank Walz and at Rockford for USSSA State director Brenda Paulson.
Thornton has recorded working over 48 Fastpitch State Tournaments, and the still active 67-year-old has also worked 14 USSSA World Series events and 2 NITs in classifications ranging from 10-and-under through Women’s. He has also served the USSSA as a Tournament Umpire-in- Chief.
He has also been instrumental in providing and training young umpire talent for the USSSA program. He joined forces with Keith Tillman and HOF Umpire Tom Seddon in accomplishing this feat.
Thornton says this is the “most wonderful game there is. I’ve seen kids of all ages out there enjoying themselves. Leaves you with a smile on your face knowing you gave them 100%.”
He states that his most exciting umpire accomplishment was being chosen to do the final game of the Women’s World Series at Rockford. He has also been awarded the Illinois Umpire of the Year Award, named for his fellow partner Tom Seddon. The Tom Seddon Award is the most prestigious award for an Illinois umpire.
Thornton has gained another prestigious award, as he entered the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame!