Mark Shields from Chester, Illinois will be the first one to tell anyone that when he began umpiring nearly 30 years ago, he was in it for the long haul.
His dedication to the game from behind the plate still continues, as he is still actively umpiring, while serving as Umpire-in-Chief in Southern Illinois.
With 21 active seasons of USSSA umpiring experience he said, “I have been very fortunate to umpire for the great leagues in Red Bud, Chester, and Evansville.”
Mark has earned the respect of many players from not only those Southern Illinois communities, but from those that have provided his professional approach to each contest at the nearly 30 state tournaments he has worked from Rockford to Peoria to Red Bud. While working these state tournaments, he recalls that they provided one of his most thrilling experiences, as he did the plate for the 1996 40 & Over Master’s State Championship game.
Mark’s most amusing situation while umpiring occurred when he was calling the plate for a team that had a 6’10” pitcher that consistently questioned his calls. With Mark measuring only 5’7”, the lanky pitcher approached Mark between innings, put his arm around him and asked, “Are you sure about those calls, little buddy?” No one really knows if Mark ever game him an answer.
His passion for his profession is evident as he states, “Softball is a sport that cannot have a value placed on its reputation. Only for the love of the game can softball be proclaimed priceless.” He also praises the USSSA program for its growth and dedication, while providing opportunities that he has enjoyed for many years.
We hope that his induction into the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame makes him feel a little taller, as he stands above many in providing fairness, equality and integrity to the game.