Making the Calls

Sixteen teams from nine different countries recently took part in the 65th annual Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Huntington Beach, California took home the crown in the championship game over Japan. While millions watched on television, Naperville resident Jim Meurer had a front row seat to the celebration by being selected as a member of the Little League World Series umpire crew.

“I’ve never done anything like it in my life and probably never will,” said Meurer after arriving home. “The opportunity to umpire a game in front of 42,000 people is something that is very special.”

It was a process that started last January when Jim received a letter from the Little League Central Region Director that he had been appointed to work the 2011 Little League World Series after an extensive selection process. Only 16 umpires get the opportunity to work at the Little League World Series, 12 from the United States and four from across the globe. He umpired 11 games throughout the Series, including two behind home plate, and he was a part of the crew assigned to the biggest game of the year.

“For the championship game on Sunday I was the 3rd base umpire,” said Meurer. “Of the 16 umpires at the Series only six of us could work that game and I was one of those six so it was a tremendous honor.”

Jim has called balls and strikes in little league games for the past 21 years, the last 17 in Naperville, all as an unpaid volunteer. But even after more than 1,500 games, there were still some butterflies as he stepped onto the field.

“Of course the umpires get nervous,” said Meurer. “We have never umpired in front of all these people before and we have never umpired with instant replay either so we are all out there hoping we make the right call.”

For Jim, the decision to accept his invitation to the 2011 Little League World Series was the right call.

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