SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT — Six umpires were on the field during the Mexico-Japan game at the Little League World Series. They come from all over the world, but one of them is from right here at home.
“I don’t know how you describe it. It’s the most amazing thing. It’s like the first time a kid goes to Disney World,” John Bell said.
John Bell is from Milford, and is superintendent of the Delaware Valley School District in Pike County. He has been officiating little league games for more than 30 years and applied to umpire at the Little League World Series 13 times. Little league officials say this year there were more than 10,000 umpire applications. Bell was one of 16 chosen.
“I went home and opened it and I was so nervous to read the letter. When I was reading it, I was shaking because I thought, ‘oh, my God, this was the letter I’ve been waiting to obtain for almost 20 years,'” Bell said.
Little league officials say this is the first time in decades that someone from our area was chosen to be an umpire in the Little League World Series. So far Bell officiated nine games in South Williamsport, including the first game of the tournament.
“All the umpires were nervous. There was that extra level of nerves doing the plate for the first game. But it was a really big honor they picked me knowing I could handle it,” Bell said.
Bell says it’s been nerve-wracking at times, like when instant-replay was used to question one of his calls.
“I called him safe, and after the longest minute and a half of my life, the replay official confirmed that he was safe. That was a great feeling,” Bell said.
Bell calls this experience a once in a lifetime honor.
“You’ve got a better chance of winning the lottery than being picked twice, and I think that’s the right way to do it. You wouldn’t want to rob somebody else of the chance of having this dream. For an umpire, this is the pinnacle of volunteer umpiring,” Bell said.