SIDNEY — Mike Martin, of Anna, was the Sidney Rotary meeting presenter recently.
Martin talked about his umpiring college and professional baseball. Martin graduated from Elida High School and from Ohio Northern University, where he played two sports. After graduation, he taught school for 10 years and then worked for Honda until his retirement. Martin and his wife, Betsy, recently opened Bliss and Bloom Flower shop in Anna.
In the mid 1980s while coaching baseball, Martin said, he started to think about the other side or facet of the game that the umpires see. He trained to be an umpire and then started to umpire youth baseball, which made him a better coach. As he umpired more ball games, he moved from youth baseball to high school- and then to college-level ball games. He has umpired for Division I, II and III college baseball for the last 15 years, and he umpires professional baseball games that are part of the Frontier League, an independent league with players less than 27 years old.
Martin told of umpiring a Frontier League game in Florence, Kentucky, that was late in the season and the coach/manager of one team, which had been having a losing season, was a bit edgy. Martin said he was behind the plate, calling the balls and strikes, and in the very early innings, the manager came out of the dugout to argue a call, but he wasn’t really into the argument, so Martin asked if he wanted to be thrown out. The manager responded with the question of what it would take to be tossed. Martin told him if he would just take off his hat and throw it on the ground and jump up and down, that would do it. The manager did so, and Martin tossed him from the game. The next night at the ball park, the manager came over and said, “Thank you. It was such a relief to just go home and relax and not worry about the team’s performance for one night.” Martin summed up his presentation to the club by stating he has the best seat in the house, and “I love the game of baseball.”