Jerry Henry started umpiring in 1980 after playing softball for 14 years at the Class B and C levels, and the USSSA has been all the better for it. He did not get into umpiring initially to help the USSSA, but to make extra cash in 1980. Joliet, where he started umping, had just joined the USSSA and that’s the same time Henry donned the red and black.
In 1984, Irv Porter, whom Henry already knew from playing softball together, thought he saw potential in the young ump and introduced him to the man who proved to be his mentor, Bob Parvin. Parvin had Henry umpire in a Class B tournament in Downers Grove with him. He liked his abilities and told Henry he could umpire for him any time he wanted. Parvin also said that if Henry ever wanted to umpire in the State finals, to give him a call.
Henry has done that and more in his USSSA career, logging 23 State, eight Divisional, 19 NIT and four World or National Tournaments.
“I always looked up to Bob, and judged my abilities according to his,” Henry said. “I think he was the greatest umpire that I have ever seen or been associated with.”
After all these years and all those tournaments, Henry still likes the pay and the working conditions.
“It’s an easy way to make money,” Henry said. “I mean, where can you work a part time job and make $16 an hour, be the boss and work out in the fresh air? Not bad.”
Of course, Henry still enjoys umping because he’s never lost his love of the game of softball.
“I felt that I had quit [playing] a little prematurely, but by umpiring, I am still close to the game and have never looked back on my decision to umpire,” Henry said.
Henry is humble when reflecting on his time as an umpire. “I guess people think that I am deserving because I have umpired in three World Series and several National and State tournaments,” he said.
For all his accomplishments, Henry said he’s never claimed to be a great umpire.
“I just always said that I would try to get in position and know the rules,” Henry said. “And that’s exactly what I try to teach the umpires in clinics in the state of Illinois. I have always looked at umpiring as a job and a way to have a little fun in the process.”
Besides Bob Parvin and Irv Porter, one other person th9ings Henry has indeed managed to “get in position and know the rules” pretty well – Illinois USSSA State Director Brenda Paulson.
“Jerry’s been one of our best umpires for years now,” Paulson said, adding that his contributions go beyond umping. “He’s been one of our best directors since 1988. Even though we tend to disagree sometimes, we still manage to work it out. He’s been instrumental to the growth and success of the USSSA program.
It’s now time for Jerry to step up to the podium and thank Bob Parvin and all those who influenced him as we officially welcome him into the ranks of the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame.