Playing in the Little League World Series is the dream for most young baseball players.
At ages 11 and 12, getting to travel on charter busses, eat at fancy restaurants, stay in luxurious hotels and play on national television against teams from around the globe — all while accumulating excused absences from school for over a week — is something those who get the chance to do will never forget about.
While it’s a huge deal for players, coaches and families, it’s also a pretty special occasion for umpires, like Adam Hale, a resident and local minister from Glendale. He spent last week umpiring the Little League World Series’ Great Lakes and Midwest Regional Tournaments in Westfield, Indiana just outside of Indianapolis and was the plate umpire in the Midwest final.
Hale, who is 35 and serves as senior minister at Glendale Christian Church, started umpiring when he was in high school. He’s worked baseball and softball state tournaments for Little League — including championship game appearances behind the plate — and also umpires high school baseball, including working multiple district tournaments and 5th Region Tournaments in the past.
He began the application process to umpire at the Little League Baseball regionals near the end of 2018. After filling out an application, Hale sent it to John Edwards, the district manager for the Central region, and he then forwarded it to the regional headquarters for Little League to check out.
Hale was happy with what he heard back from the organization.
“There’s an application process with Little League around each November,” he said. “After applying and having the regional headquarters do their background check and make their calls, I was notified the first part of January that I had been selected to work the Little League World Series regionals — and I was placed in the Indianapolis area.”
From Aug. 3-10, Hale was a part of the umpiring crew that worked the pair of regionals. While being able to play an important role throughout the week, Hale also witnessed top-tier baseball at the youth level.
Working numerous games — many of those intriguing — over the week, Hale earned plenty of TV time on ESPN networks. His games could be streamed on ESPN+ over the first few days before he was bumped up to ESPN’s main channel for the semifinals and Saturday’s Midwest Regional final.
“The first several days were on ESPN+. Then, on Thursday for the semifinals, ESPN brought in their main crew for the main channel and you could just tell everything was bigger,” Hale said. “You could see there were more cameras and more production people, they had microphones everywhere, a couple at the plate, and you could just feel all of the eyes on you.”
While Hale had a great first experience working the LLWS regional rounds, his main goal remains: umpiring the actual LLWS Tournament in Williamsport.
In order to earn a spot on the umpire roster for the big show, you must first be recommended. With Hale now receiving the required recommendation, he is one step closer to accomplishing his goal.
“The goal is to get the Little League World Series in Williamsport (Pennsylvania),” Hale said. “After each tournament us umpires work, they do an evaluation. If the evaluation goes well, you can receive recommendations, and once you receive a recommendation you can apply to go to Williamsport.
“I was fortunate enough to receive a recommendation. A lot of umpires apply every year, so it takes time, but that’s the ultimate goal.”
The Little League Baseball World Series Tournament begins Thursday at Howard J. Lamade Stadium in Williamsport. The event will run through Aug. 25 and all games can be watched on ESPN networks.