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Local umpires enjoy calling games, making friends

A host of Thomson-area sanctioned umpires called games in last week's USSSA Girls' Slo-Pitch Softball World Series at Sweetwater Park near Thomson.

For most of them, it was a time to call with umpires they had never worked with before from other states. At the same time, it was a time for those who had worked with each other in past tournaments to renew their friendships.

Matthew Williams, a 1986 graduate of Thomson High School, is one of the most-active, longtime local umpires calling USSSA games. He has been doing it since he graduated - having played football and winning the state championship his junior year.

"I love to call in world series games," said Mr. Williams. "It's a lot of fun getting to know folks from all over the country."

Staying involved in the game and being fair are the keys to being a good umpire, added Mr. Williams, a 15-year veteran, who has called in world series events for a decade and a half.

"I love going out there and doing my job - calling as fair as I know how to call," said Mr. Williams.

Gary Hinton, is another Thomson umpire. He has been calling games for the past seven years.

Mr. Hinton, who also manages a men's softball team, has won 1,500 games and has a .600 winning percentage. He recently was nominated to become a member of the Georgia USSSA Hall of Fame.

"I like meeting people at world series events," said Mr. Hinton. "The atmosphere is really exciting. Everybody is pumped up and it's just a lot of fun."

Last week's world series was his fourth one in seven years.

Charles Norman is another Thomson resident, who umpires. He's done it for the past 11 years.

"It's a great way to meet new friends," said Mr. Norman. "It's a real honor to get to call in a world series tournament and work with umpires from other states."

Ken Gordon, of Winfield, echoes those sentiments.

"It's really a lot of fun and an honor to call world series games," said Mr. Gordon, who has been umpiring for several years in USSSA, as well as the Georgia High School Association - in both baseball and softball. He also is a former basketball referee.

"I've had a wonderful time calling in world series games," said Mr. Gordon. "It's fun to talk with the players, coaches and spectators at big tournaments."

Leo Tuvell, of Camak, agrees.

"It's nice being able to work with other umpires and see how they call," said Mr. Tuvell, who works at Advance Auto Parts Distribution Center near Thomson. "I have enjoyed working USSSA games for the last nine years."

He also has served as an umpire and referee since 1971 with the Georgia High School Association.

For Don Capitosti, there's nothing like calling games in a world series.

Mr. Capitosti heads the local USSSA umpire crew as umpire-in-charge.

"I personally think it's an honor for these guys to be selected to call in world series games, because it lets them know they are the best at what they do," said Mr. Capitosti, who is better known simply as "Cap."

The retired U.S. Army veteran said the secret behind running a world series event is being familiar with the staff involved.

"We have one of the better staffs I've ever worked with in a world series," he explained. "That includes the umpires, as well as the Thomson-McDuffie County recreation staff. They just do a super job to make everything run smoothly."

Umpires working the game from Mississippi last week included John Throne, Dewayne Rayner, Dana Williams and Terrell Stewart. Those from the Atlanta area included Robert Lee and Darrell Smith. Alden "A.J." Jackson, of Thomson, also called games.

Mr. Capitosti was aided by Michael Moody, who serves as one of the USSSA state youth directors and is a UIC, too.

Web posted on Thursday, July 26, 2007

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