Umpire picked for Mexico
Our top baseball umpire is heading to Mexico to make history next month.
Auckland-based umpire Warren van Rooyen has been chosen by the International Baseball Federation to take charge at the under15 Baseball World Cup this year.
It is the first time a Kiwi has ever officiated a world baseball championship.
Van Rooyen is the director of umpiring for Baseball New Zealand and says his selection will show young New Zealand umpires what is available in the sport for those who put in the time and effort.
‘‘This is a tremendous honour for not only myself, but for our nation’s umpires and growing programme.
‘‘We are on the verge of building a world-class baseball organisation in New Zealand, and we have a growing group of talented umpires coming up through the ranks.’’
The under-15 Baseball World Cup was launched in 2012 and is played every two years. This year it will be held from July 31 to August 10 in Mexico.
The New Zealand side have pulled a tough draw which includes the competition’s top two seeds, the United States and Japan.
Baseball New Zealand chief executive Ryan Flynn says it is a big tournament for New Zealand.
It is the first time New Zealand has fielded a team at any world baseball championship.
‘‘This is a chance for our talented young players to really get noticed on the world stage, as scouts from professional and college baseball will be watching this age grade carefully,’’ he says.
World Baseball Softball Confederation president Riccardo Fraccari says establishing youth platforms such as the under-15 world cup is an integral part of the sport’s growth.
‘‘The global spread and strength of the countries in the 2014 under15 Baseball World Cup will create a truly unique atmosphere and generate great excitement for the athletes, as they come from all around the world to share their talents and admire each other on the international stage and shine on it,’’ Fraccari says.
Good call: Warren van Rooyen, left, and fellow umpire John Stephney discuss a call.