Kevin Bethard, Minooka, IL
28 years from Men’s Major NITs to E
Clinician for USSSA Umpire Clinics
Involved in inception of the Will County Softball Umpires Association
Kevin Bethard, Minooka, IL
28 years from Men’s Major NITs to E
Clinician for USSSA Umpire Clinics
Involved in inception of the Will County Softball Umpires Association
Doug Livingston, Loves Park, IL
16 years from Men’s major NITs to E
Served on committees for umpire clinics
Umpired many championship games in State, Nationals, NITs, A World and Men’s Major Conference
Adrain “Sonny” Foster began his umpiring quest 20 years ago in DeKalb, Illinois under the tutelage of Jeff Myles from the DeKalb Park District. At that time, little did he know that his desire to earn a little extra cash would guide him toward the highest level of softball umpiring.
A relocation to Joliet a few years later provided numerous opportunities for him to learn from veteran umpires that helped him earn Illinois USSSA Umpire of the Year honors in 2005. This honor provided him confidence to conduct umpire clinics for new umpires in the USSSA organization.
Foster’s umpiring expertise allowed him to be assigned to both Men’s and Women’s State and National level tournaments at numerous different locations. In 2007, he reached the umpiring mountain top when he was assigned to officiate in his first World Series in Orlando, Florida. In 2013, he was honored by being assigned the home plate duties in the Women’s Class B Championship game.
Since that time, Foster has become a fixture at World Tournament play in Orlando, and this year at the new 15-field USSSA Space Coast Stadium Complex at Viera, Florida. It seems that he has made more trips to Disney World than Mickey Mouse, as his long journey from Urbana, Arkansas to umpire a sport he knew little about.
Just because he wanted to earn a few extra bucks, Foster has found something worth a whole lot more in friendships, enjoyment and success.
We add recognition to his resume as he enters the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame for a job well done.
The first USSSA Northern Umpire-In-Chief, Chuck Tarlton developed the umpire instructional clinic as it is operated today, and brought many of today’s top USSSA umpires to the program.
With over a 23-year umpiring career, Vic DiGiovanni established a reputation for hustle and loud, decisive calls. He was the first Illinois umpire to work the plate at a USSSA Men’s Major World in 1985.
L.N. “Milt” Morse
A 23-year veteran of USSSA umpiring who has found the time to give back to the game of softball, L.N. “Milt” Morse would umpire wherever softball was being played in the summer and traveled the state of Illinois during the 80s teaching umpire clinics each spring. He always had a friendly smile and took the time to say hello not only to his fellow umpires, but to the players and their children too. He knew that the game of softball, which provided him with some extra income, would not exist without the players and fans of the game.
He attended USSSA National Umpiring Clinics in Nashville, Tennessee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Chicago and Rockford. He was selected to work in 17 consecutive USSSA Women’s National Invitational Tournaments held annually in Rockford.
Morse was also selected to work the USSSA Men’s Class B World Tournament in St. Louis, Missouri in 1979. This gave him the opportunity to see how umpires from other areas around the Midwest worked the game of softball. If Rockford was the host site for a USSSA tournament over Labor Day weekend, you could be sure Morse would be selected to umpire the prestigious event.
Sportsmanship has always been the number one item on his agenda as an umpire. He demanded the rules be observed and fair play was given to both teams. Sportsmanship would be required from not only both teams, but from himself at all times.
Morse’s love of the game of softball has kept him near the game he wants to be associated with. He has found that the Illinois USSSA tries to run all their events at a top-notch level. He feels that the Illinois USSSA takes the time and gives the effort to teach and train their umpires so quality remains each and every year, even after some of the top umpires have decided to step down from umpiring.
In his nearly 20 years of service to the USSSA, Bob Parvin umpired all over the country in NITs and World Tournaments and in every Illinois State Tournament. He averaged some 250 games a season and one year logged 523 games. On one occasion, Parvin umpired a dozen games in a row.
Recognized by umpires, players, managers and complex owners alike as the best umpire in the state, he was a commanding presence on the field. That last five years of his career, Parvin served as Illinois USSSA Umpire-in-Chief, supervising countless umpire clinics. Most of today’s top USSSA umpires were developed under his tutelage.
“You have to love the game and like people, in my opinion,” Parvin said. “I was around friends, people with the same interests as me, and around a sport I grew up with and loved.”
Parvin is quick to acknowledge two people in particular as helpful in his career.
“Ken Franzen was most instrumental in my career,” he said. “If my son could grow up to be like Ken, I’d be pleased.”
Parvin went on to thank Ken Paulson as well.
“He [Ken Paulson] knows the rules as well as anyone I’ve ever met,” he said.
In 1995, Parvin underwent multiple bypass surgery and retired from umpiring. He now owns and runs BJs, a Rockford sports bar, and stays connected to softball as a multi-team sponsor.
Umpire Joe Latin is no average Joe. Not physically, athletically or temperamentally.
In his 75 years on earth, many of the people who have been lucky enough to know Latin have been as deeply impressed with the strength of his character as with the strength of his body. For those blessed with raw physical power and superior athletic talent, he valued the power of his personality more. Always a gentleman, Latin was an even-tempered role model for all of those around him, both as a player and umpire.
Latin was a fast pitch player in his younger days, equally well known for being a hard throwing pitcher and a tremendously powerful hitter. Raised on a farm near Prescott, Arkansas, Latin learned early to tackle hard work head on. It’s a lesson he’s never forgotten, and it is evident in everything he does on the softball field.
In his mid-40s, Latin still compared favorably to world heavyweight boxing champ Joe Frazier, with tremendous forearms and an almost identical build.
As his playing career started winding down in the mid-60s, Latin took to umpiring as a way of staying connected to the game. He preceded everyone in the present USSSA program, including longtime park supervisor, Bob Papich. Starting out as an ASA umpire, he moved to the USSSA in the early-70s and has been a fixture on the scene ever since.
“I love Joe Latin,” USSSA State Director Brenda Paulson said. “He’s a gentleman and one of the most consistent and even-tempered people I know. I could assign Joe to any game, any classification, anywhere and I knew he’d handle it.”
Bob Papich saw Latin umpire countless games and is equally complimentary.
“He’s the best, not only from the standpoint of longevity, but in his attitude towards the game and the players. He handles difficult situations extremely well and his ability to make the correct call is outstanding.”
Paying Latin perhaps the highest compliment and umpire can receive, Papich added, “He never cost anyone a ball game.”
The record reflects the USSSA’s faith in Joe Latin’s work ethic. He has umpired some 30 State Tournaments at every level, as well as 20 Worlds and NITs. Latin routinely traveled the state, covering tournaments wherever needed. Always showing up as scheduled, and always early so he’d be behind the plate when game time rolled around.
“From 8 a.m. to the last game if needed,” Papich said.
“He’s just a super person,” Forest Hill Diamond’s Director Ken Franzen said.
Along with Latin’s peaceful temperament, the longtime Rockford resident projected a sheer physical presence like few others.
“You didn’t argue with Joe,” Franzen said. “And all the players knew that.”
Franzen recalls the time an overwrought centerfielder took in on himself to rush in from centerfield to protest a call Latin had made at second base. As the young man approached, Latin calmly turned and asked him if he had a position to play in the game.
“Well, yes,” the man replied uncertainly.
“Fine,” Latin said. “I’m going to turn around and if you’re not standing there when I turn back around, you’re gone.”
The young many quickly retreated to his outfield post.
For all the people willing to sing Latin’s praises, Latin himself is not one of them. To him, doing a job well is simply part of accepting responsibility for that job.
“Anything I commit myself to, I do it,” Latin said matter-of-factly. “And I have fun doing it.”
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.
During the past 40 years, Irv Porter has worn many different uniforms, starting as a player for 18 years on teams that won four State Titles and played in nine World Tournaments. Porter has also been an Area Director and the first Northern Illinois Regional Director for the Illinois USSSA, along with his current position as umpire.
This year, Porter completed his 20th year of umpiring, which has included calling games at seven different World Tournaments. He has also attended numerous USSSA National Umpire Clinics and has also taught at these clinics for over ten years.
“As an umpire, Irv approaches the game the way he did as a player, with hustle, dedication and determination,” Bob Papich, a 2002 Hall of Fame inductee, said. “It made little difference to him if it were [sic] co-rec or a women’s game, the hustle was and is always there.”
Porter has co-authored two USSSA rule changes with Illinois USSSA State Director Brenda Paulson that were passed and became USSSA National rules. The first, which allows a team to start and finish a game with a minimum of nine players and the home run penalties used in the Men’s programs.
“Irv has added more to the Illinois By-Laws and Playing Rules than any other Director,” Paulson said. “Irv has always tried to change the game for the betterment of its participants. Irv’s enthusiasm has always been contagious.”
The Illinois Softball Report that Porter started in the spring of 1997 has since been converted to a web-based publication as of the fall of 2002. The Internet has allowed I.S.R. to bring the softball player tournament results, including tournament recaps, game photos and upcoming tournament brackets, in a faster manner.
From Major to the Class E level, Irv is always prepared to do his job, willing to go anywhere at any time to umpire. This also helped him be inducted into another association’s 16-inch Illinois Hall of Fame.
“Many of the Hall of Fame athletes have had Irv as an umpire,” Papich said. “You may not have always agreed with his calls, but you cannot second guess effort to give you the best game he could give you at that time.”
Irv Porter’s induction into the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame as an umpire is well-deserved due to his dedication to the game of softball.
Anyone who has ever officiated a sporting event at any level will tell you it is not as easy as it looks and you can never make everybody happy all the time.
For 17 years, Joliet’s Marc “Muss” Musser umpired USSSA softball and he made his job look like a walk in the park, even though he may not have pleased all the player and coaches along the way. He started umpiring in 1984 and attended the USSSA National Umpire Clinics from 1984 through 1990. In 1985, he joined the Joliet Park District, which later became USSSA affiliated. He retired in 2001.
Marc umpired many State Tournaments over his career, which included Classes A through E in the Men’s program and Classes B, C and D in the Women’s program in Joliet, Downers Grove and Rockford. He also did USSSA Divisional Tournaments and a Class A Women’s NIT in Rockford.
Marc listed a title game in the late 1980s or early 19902 between two rival teams from Joliet and Rockford as a memorable game he umpired. As the home plate umpire, this game may have been one of the shortest in which he was involved.
“One the first pitch of the game, a Joliet player hit a grounder back at the pitcher and was out,” recalled Musser. “The player returned to the dugout and threw his bat against the fence and was ejected. With no one to take his place, the game ended in a forfeit with only one pitch being thrown. Needless to say, I heard about this situation in Joliet for years to come.”
Over the years, Musser felt the USSSA did things the right way.
“I was always impressed with the way the USSSA (namely in Rockford) ran the program in Illinois, especially Brenda Paulson,” Musser said. “I played softball in the early 70s in another association and was very disappointed in their tournaments. Always enjoyed coming to Rockford to umpire.”
Along the way, Musser got to work with and learn from other umpires who have found their way into the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame.
“I very much enjoyed umpiring with fellow inductee (2006) Irv Porter,” Musser said. “He taught me a lot about the game. I remember he and I would sometimes call eight to ten games in a row at tournaments on a weekend.”
In 1991, he was awarded the highest honor for a season when he received the Illinois USSSA Umpire-in-Chief Award.
We honor an umpire who truly gave more to the game of softball than he received. Marc Musser will now have a special place in the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame.
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.
When Tom began his umpiring career, he really didn’t plan on doing it very long. He just did it to make a little extra cash to support his six-day-a-week softball playing habits. Little did he realize at the time that Dave Hauseman, who introduced him to umpiring, and Irv Porter, who provided him State Tournament experience, were opening a path for him to the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame.
As he found fortune and enjoyment from umpiring during the past 20 years, his playing time dwindled. He was umpiring numerous tournaments including the Women’s Class “A” NIT tournaments in Rockford, the Men’s NIT in Joliet, the Men’s IL State tournaments, the Women’s Class “A” World Series in Kentucky, the Women’s Class B & Class D Worlds, the Championship game of the Women’s Class C World Tournament at Disney in Orlando, and the Men’s “Class B, Class C & Class D” World Tournaments in Orlando.
Tom still umpires three nights a week while returning to the diamond to play co-ed with one of his daughters, and to stay close to the game that has been a huge part of his life. Tom admits, “I just love softball!”
Well Tom, for all of those hot days you have suffered through behind the plate to provide fair play to so many and to the USSSA game, softball loves you too by welcoming you into the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame.
Dan began umpiring in 1965 and with the USSSA in the 1970s. Working mainly in the Joliet area, he umpired at all tournament and league levels of play while also doing many National Invitational Tournaments and State Tournaments. He also umpired at a USSSA 16-inch World Tournament held in Joliet.
According to fellow umpire Tim Johnson, “You could always depend on Dan to do his job and do it well.” He said, “I could always count on him because he knew the game. We called him Trigger because he was always in control of the game.”
Dan attended several state and national umpiring clinics to improve his umpiring talents and considers being able to umpire with his son Michael the highlight of his career.
He retired from umpiring in 2008.
Vernon began his umpiring career as an IHSA baseball official in the mid-1950s after playing both baseball and fastpitch softball at many Southern Illinois communities. Vernon recalls that his umpiring opportunities increased significantly after USSSA Director, Orvel Cox asked him to not only umpire, but to be the umpire-in-chief of the USSSA sanctioned slowpitch softball league in Red Bud. This not only jump started his umpiring career as one of the finest officials in Southern Illinois, but one of the most respected.
Vernon spent 15 years as a USSSA umpire, officiating numerous state level tournaments, which provided him his biggest umpiring honor as he umpired a National Tournament in Bridgeton, MO. At the tournament, Vernon recalls when the very first batter in the first game swung at the ball and his back swing struck the catcher in the back of the head. it made him realize that he needed to keep his distance as well.
Vernon also was involved in an incident during his umpiring career during a tournament at Red Bud, when a player slid into home plate and swallowed his tongue. With some medical knowledge and a quick response, Vernon suppressed the tongue enough with his indicator to open the player's airway, allowing emergency workers to get the player to the hospital. Later, Vernon learned that the player had returned to the ball diamond after his release to thank him for his quick actions, even though he had already departed.
Tonight, the Illinois USSSA thanks Vernon for his many years of umpiring excellence and in making the USSSA a leader of fair play.
Michael J. Mackey
Most everyone has heard the phrase, "I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken." It must have been referring to Mike's umpire abilities, when asked if he had ever made a bad call, his response was, "No, never!"
Learning to be an excellent umpire in the Joliet area under the guidance of fellow umpires Mark Hall, Tim Johnson, Jerry Henry and Tom Seddon, led Mike to being chosen to umpire many state and national events at Rockford and Joliet during his 16-year career. His abilities later provided opportunities to umpire at World Series events at Fort Knox, Kentucky and Orlando, Florida.
Mike's strangest situation while umpiring occurred during the Women's Class B World Series, when a batter hit a basses loaded line drive up the middle to short centerfield. The fielder dove for the ball, but the attempt was ruled a trap by Mike's partner, who instantly signaled safe. The runners, however, held on all bases, resulting in the ball being thrown to third, second and first for a triple play!
When asked who some of the best players he had umpired were, he said, "Brian Schultz, Jim Cushing, Al Van Gampler and Dan Prater top his list."
Mike also acknowledges that his involvement with the USSSA has allowed him to travel around the country, have a lot of fun and meet many new friends. Tonight, it has allowed him to enter the Illinois USSSA Hall of Fame as one of its finest umpires.
Willis began umpiring in 1982 and has created a resume that reads like a who’s who of umpiring. During his stay behind the plate, Willis has umpired in 75 World Series events and has done 45 Championship contests.
In March of 2008, he was named United States Specialty Sports Fast Pitch Umpire of the Year. He also was named Assistant Illinois State Fast Pitch Umpire in Chief in 2010 to present.
In providing insight into Willis’s contributions to the Illinois USSSA, Brenda Paulson said, “Willis has been instrumental in the development of the Illinois USSSA Fast Pitch program and his umpires. Due to his efforts, we have been able to host much larger state and World Series events.”
In addition to Willis’s umpiring efforts, he has volunteered at the March of Dimes Snowball Tournament for the past ten years, while teaching 8- to 14-year-old players the fundamentals of the fast-pitch game. Presently he is also putting together summer camps for elementary students by teaching them the game of softball, while continuing youth instruction at summer leagues.
His abilities of passing on the knowledge of umpiring and the softball game to others has allowed Willis to become one of Illinois’ newest USSSA Hall of Fame members.
Over the past 33 years, Jim has umpired numerous leagues and tournaments in the Rockford area. In addition, he has umpired many different classifications at the state tournament level, while also doing National Invitational Tournaments at both the men's and women's levels.
Jim sites umpiring the 1996 Women's World at Kalamazoo, Michigan as being one of his most exciting events and remarks, "The friendships I have made with umpires and players all over the United States are everlasting."
Jim also says that umpiring has been very rewarding and he still loves the challenges it presents. He has also provided rules instruction at several umpire clinics over the years.
Although his officiating career was cut short by a leg injury in 1989, Mike Reeves established himself as one of the finest umpires to ever call a game in the Midwest area. He was well-known and well-respected wherever and whenever he took the field. He estimates that he averaged calling 300 games per year.
Mike held umpire clinics every year for all the umpires in Southern Illinois. He had the ability to train young umpires using his knowledge and expertise. This greatly enhanced the USSSA softball experience in the southern part of the state. Besides umpiring, he would hire and assign umpires for seven to ten different leagues. He was an asset to all league directors. He was the Southern Illinois Umpire in Chief for eight years and he called all the USSSA tournaments in the area. He feels fortunate to have been able to call World & Divisional Tournaments.
Mike could have also been inducted into the Illinois Hall of Fame in the Director Category. He served as the Southern Illinois State Director from 1984 to 1988 and was awarded State Director of the Year in 1988. During his tenure as a director, he organized and ran several State tournaments.
“Mike Reeves could do it all! He was a great umpire and in addition to directing Umpire Clinics in Southern Illinois and working numerous tournaments, Mike also worked Divisional Tournaments in Rockford with his partner Steve Manning. He was also a great Director and we missed him when he left USSSA to pursue his educational career. But we’ve finally found him and we are acknowledging all his USSSA efforts by Hall of Fame induction,” said Brenda Paulson, former Illinois State Director.
Mike feels that softball is an excellent way to obtain some exercise and to socialize with others that have like interests. He has always been proud to have been associated with USSSA as both an umpire and director.
Over the past 27 years, Jerry Hoiness has umpired many men’s and women’s leagues and tournaments in the Rockford and surrounding areas. He has umpired numerous National Invitational, Divisional, National and State Tournaments at the B, C, D and E levels, as well as a few World Tournaments.
When Ken-Rock Community Center transitioned from youth fast pitch to slow pitch in 200, “Hoiny” became their schedule and UIC for the kid’s program in 2002.
Jerry takes pride and joy in umpiring and coaching the kids, developing their softball skills and watching them grow into adults playing softball. Hoiny would like to see more defense in the adult slow pitch game and would like to see more enforcement of illegal bat rules. He says, “We need to promote the leagues to younger kids leagues to help with the numbers of players coming up to keep softball alive and thriving.”
website for those inductees into the IL USSSA Softball Hall of Fame