Two of the best
Marvin Cummings has had his bags packed all week for today.
He has even checked it a few times to make sure he doesn’t forget anything.
He and fellow Chautauqua County high school baseball umpire Jerry Reilly are taking the trip to Binghamton this weekend to officiate the New York State Public High School Athletic Association baseball championships.
Cummings has been a high school baseball umpire for 14 years and Reilly has been umpiring for more than 30 years. This is the first time both gentlemen will be a part of the state Final Four.
“It’s an honor,” Cummings said. “We are working on the highest level of high school baseball. It’s the World Series of high school baseball. This is what every umpire sets their goals for.”
For Reilly, he was hesitant at first and questioned whether he wanted to give up a summer weekend for this opportunity. But as this weekend nears, he knows he made the right decision to go to Binghamton.
“I think it does,” Reilly said, when asked if the 30-year wait makes this trip more special. “For a while, I guess I wish I could go when I was younger. It takes a while to become a good umpire. To really be going now is kind of neat and I am really excited. I didn’t think I would be this excited.”
The umpiring association Reilly and Cummings are a part of gets the chance to go to the state tournament once every four years. Two umpires are selected based on votes from fellow umpires in the association.
“We knew going into the season this was our year (for the association to go to states),” Cummings said. “We found out about a month ago. It means a lot. I am honored to represent the Chautauqua County umpiring crew. It means a lot that I was selected by guys I work with.”
Both men will officiate two games, but go to Binghamton unsure of the games they will cover as they won’t find out until a dinner social tonight at 9 p.m. One thing for sure is the fact they will not umpire a game together.
“We will get to spend time with the guys we are working with at the social,” Reilly said. “We will go over stuff. Hand signals, we have to go over that before the game. You want to keep it fresh in mind. Some guys don’t use signals, which is a personal preference.”
Reilly also noted the fact each game will consist of a three-man crew, which is not used during the regular season. With a three-man crew, assignments are a bit different but Reilly said, “It’s not rocket science.”
Being from Section 6, Cummings and Reilly are not allowed to umpire a Section 6 team. However, that won’t be an issue as no Section 6 team from any Class made it out of the Far West Regionals this year.
“I was hoping for Cassadaga Valley and Fredonia to be up in Binghamton to see some familiar faces,” Cummings said.
One thing is for sure, with the state’s best teams at the tournament, good baseball will be seen, which means a more enjoyable game for the umpires, as well.
“The better the baseball, the easier it is to umpire, with out a doubt,” Cummings said. “The kids know how to play. The pitchers know how to hit the plate. Not too many goofy things happen. Coaches behave better and it’s higher level baseball. The better the quality, the easier it is to umpire.”
Reilly is just hoping he gets to umpire a game behind the plate.
“I am just going and hopefully I get a couple good games and be behind the plate,” he said. “I think that’s the most fun. It should be fun.”