The Texas State University-San Marcos baseball team may have fallen short in it’s bid to reach the 2008 NCAA College World Series in Omaha, Neb., but that doesn’t mean the Bobcats won’t be represented at famed Rosenblatt Stadium.David C. Wiley, professor of health education in the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, is heading up one of the two on-field crews that will call the games starting June 14-25. This will be his third time behind the plate at Rosenblatt–he previously umpired the College World Series in 2000 and again in 2005.
“I started doing this when I was a senior in high school to make extra money. That was 32 years ago,” Wiley said. “It really took off for me when I moved to Austin and started umpiring UT games with the old Southwest Conference. I played baseball when I was a kid, but I wasn’t good enough to play college ball. This was a way of keeping my hand in the game.
“It’s turned out beyond my wildest dreams.”
These days, Wiley umpires for the Big 12 Conference and Conference USA, two of the powerhouse circuits in college baseball. Two years ago he made a trip overseas to umpire in an international tournament hosted by Taiwan.
The NCAA has written guidelines governing the selection process for post-season officiating, Wiley explained. The amount of experience of a prospective umpire plays into the selection, including the number of conference tournament games worked. Supervisors in each conference also compile a list of umpires ranked in order of qualification for post-season assignment, based upon evaluations of their conference work during the season.
A total of 96 umpires are selected to officiate NCAA Regional Tournaments, a number which drops to 32 for the Super Regionals and 8 for the CWS. Of those working the CWS this year, three are rookies and Wiley is third in seniority. The two four-man crews alternate working either the 1 p.m. or 6 p.m. game in the early rounds of the tournament. The schedules are juggled and umpires may be shuffled from one crew to another to avoid any appearance of bias–Wiley, for instance, called games for CWS participant Rice University during the regular season with Conference USA, and would bow out of any series matchups featuring the Owls.
“There are a lot of guys that are really good at calling a game, but they do something stupid that takes them out (of the post-season consideration),” Wiley said. “I tell these young umpires who ask me for advice: ‘Ball, strike, out, safe.’ That’s all you need to worry about. Other than that, keep your nose clean.
“I’m really, really blessed. I’m just one of many that got picked for this over the years,” he said. “This hobby has already taken me farther than I ever expected. If I never work another game, that’s fine.”
By JAYME BLASCHKE
University News Service