Dowagiac’s Ignacio to work Little League World Series
A move to Dowagiac in 1996 helped John Ignacio earn a great honor.
Ignacio, who moved to Michigan from Clarksville, Tenn., received a letter on Jan. 29 that he would get the opportunity to umpire in the Little League Baseball World Series. The event takes place from Aug, 15-25 in Williamsport, Pa.
Only 16 umpires get to do the games, which involve United States pool play with eight teams and International pool play with eight teams. There is a United States and International champion, along with an overall World Series Champion. The games will be televised by ESPN, ESPN 2 and ABC.
“This is the pinnacle and what you strive for,” said Ignacio. “It’s a long process.”
That process started for the 59-year old Ignacio when he met Bryan Wild and Larry Brewer in Dowagiac. Ignacio met Brewer and Wild when he was officiating high school football games in Michigan.
“A year or two later, Bryan asked me if I would do Dowagiac Little League games,” Ignacio said. “(Wild) said it paid nothing and I said, ‘OK’.”
Once Ignacio got started doing little league baseball games, he got the opportunity to do district, state and regional tournament games, which qualified him for the Little League Baseball World Series.
In 2010, Ignacio moved back to Clarksville but maintained his ties to the Central region and his ability to qualify for the World Series by working little league baseball games in Kentucky.
“You’re graded by the umpire and chief and then the district administrator recommends you for advancement,” Ignacio said.
Umpires were announced at the end of spring.
“It threw me as a once in lifetime thing because you can’t do it again,” Ignacio said. “I’m honored to get this privilege.”
Ignacio joins Brewer and Wild as Dowagiac residents that have worked the Little League World Series. Brewer was an ump in the World Series in 2006, while Wild worked in Williamsport in the late 1990’s. Ignacio was in attendance in Williamsport in 2006 when Brewer was an umpire.
“Not many cities the size of Dowagiac can say that they sent three umpires to the Little League World Series in the last 15 years,” Ignacio said. “That’s pretty cool.”
Umpires that work the World Series are volunteers that get only once chance to ump the games. The umpires have to pay for everything but hotel rooms.
Ignacio doesn’t care about the cost. He’s just looking forward to getting the games started.
“The umpire and chief from Williamsport sent the umpires an e-mail and he wanted us to list our objectives for the World Series,” Ignacio said. “At the top of the list, I said that I’m going to have fun. I’m not going to change my style. This is a reward for 12 years of pretty hard work.”