Mak­ing the calls

Thir­teen-year-old Cor­ner Brook um­pire is Baseball NL’s mi­nor um­pire of the year

The Western Star - - SPORTS - DIANE CROCKER [email protected]­ern­star.com Twit­ter: WS_DianeCrock­er

COR­NER BROOK, N.L. — Ri­ley Jenk­ins has been throw­ing and hit­ting base­balls at Ju­bilee Field in Cor­ner Brook since he was six years old.

This past sum­mer, the 13-year-old played with the PeeWee Triple A Barons, pitch­ing some games and man­ning first base for oth­ers.

He also stepped into an­other role at the field this sum­mer and called about 50 games — from the mos­quito to se­nior level — as an um­pire.

That work has earned him the ti­tle of mi­nor um­pire of the year from Baseball NL.

“I was al­ways in­ter­ested in um­pir­ing in gen­eral,” he said re­cently.

In June, he com­pleted a Level 1 um­pir­ing course to be­come one of the youngest um­pires in the prov­ince.

Mak­ing the switch from player to um­pire has been an eye-open­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“You un­der­stand how tough an um­pire’s job is once you start do­ing it more,” he said. “There’d be times when I was play­ing that I’d say that’s an aw­ful call. Then I re­al­ized it’s a lot harder than it looks.”

And it’s changed the way he plays.

“There’d be times I’d kind of start com­plain­ing to an um­pire, but I never do that any­more.”

The job can re­quire mak­ing hard calls and an um­pire has to be pre­pared for reactions from play­ers and fans.

“I got yelled at a lot,” he said. “When you’re be­ing yelled at by 40-year-old men, it’s kind of scary at first, but you get used to it af­ter a while.”

There can be jit­ters when he first hits the field.

Ap­pre­hen­sion can also come with the level of play he’s of­fi­ci­at­ing.

He did the plate for four of the five games at the U14 girls provin­cial cham­pi­onship this sum­mer and found that a lit­tle nerve-wrack­ing.

“Be­cause you look at who’s play­ing and you see what their his­tory was.”

No mat­ter what the game or who’s play­ing, he said you just have to go out there and make your call.

“The thing that the play­ers have got to re­mem­ber is the um­pire is al­ways right. And you think to your­self, if I’ve got to, I can eject them.”

He hasn’t had to make that call yet, but has come pretty close.

The mi­nor um­pire of the year award was pre­sented dur­ing Baseball NL’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing in Gan­der Oct. 26.

Jenk­ins was the only per­son from out­side St. John’s to win an award, although ju­nior/se­nior player of the year Scott Goos­ney of St. John’s is orig­i­nally from Pasadena. He wasn’t at the cer­e­mony be­cause he was no­ti­fied of his win that day.

He did know about the award and there was a point mid­way through the sum­mer, af­ter he had um­pired about 40 games, he thought he might have a shot at win­ning.

By the time the mid­dle of Oc­to­ber rolled around, Jenk­ins fig­ured the ban­quet had been held and he never got the award.

To get the call made him really happy.

“To win it in my first year was pretty spe­cial.”

While bowl­ing and bas­ket­ball will oc­cupy his time over the next few months, he’s al­ready look­ing for­ward to get­ting back to um­pir­ing and com­plet­ing his sec­ond level of train­ing.

Ri­ley Jenk­ins is seen be­hind the plate dur­ing a mi­nor baseball game in Cor­ner Brook this past sum­mer. CON­TRIB­UTED

Jenk­ins

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