By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator

With the gradual return to sport, we continue to share stories from the individuals who help make sport possible for us here in Manitoba.

Referees and officials play an integral role in sport, and without them there to make the call, the games and competition we enjoy wouldn’t be possible.

We had the pleasure of talking with Mario, a local baseball official who spent his retirement returning to the sport by becoming an umpire.


Giving Back to the Sport of Baseball

“I grew up playing baseball, and some of my earliest memories are out on the field,” said Mario. “I made some of my closest life-long friends while playing baseball and the game has always been a huge part of my life.”

“Somewhere along the way, life happened and I simply didn’t have the time to play on a team anymore. But baseball remained one of my favourite things. We spent Father’s Days at the Goldeyes games, my daughters picked up the sport in middle school and high school, and baseball always seemed to be on the TV at our house.”

Mario said when his kids got older and he retired, he felt like he had time for baseball again and wanted to give back to the sport he loved so much.


A Challenging Experience

“Unfortunately, my experience as an umpire wasn’t as positive as the experiences I had growing up as a baseball player. I gave up my job umpiring this past year, because it was no longer fun. I was showing up to the baseball diamond every week to negativity as players, coaches and fans only wanted to argue about calls instead of playing or enjoying the game.”

Now, Mario reflects on his time as an umpire and wishes one thing for everyone involved in the game.

“As umpires, we take a course each year as the rules are continually changing. Because of this, fans are often unaware of these changes, and as a result, they get upset and take it out on us. This made it extremely difficult for me to look forward to umpiring and therefore caused me to quit altogether. I love baseball and I always have, but I didn’t want to let my experience as an official ruin that love for me. Looking back, I wish players, coaches and fans would realize that we are all there for a mutual reason, because we love the sport of baseball. But unfortunately, that is often forgotten in the heat of the game.”


Learn more about the #NoRefNoGame campaign on our website and join the conversation on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.