By Ariel Christy
This past weekend the Ford Fieldhouse was buzzing with baseball. The 2011 Bruce Doane Sr. Umpire Camp was in full effect on Saturday and Sunday. Over 60 campers were met with GRCC’s baseball players and coaches along with 20 expert instructors.
Bruce Doane Sr. had made a commitment to improve baseball by creating the camp in 1991. The camp was designed to improve and educate amateur umpires. Bruce Doane Sr. was able to excite and unite players, umpires, campers, instructors and administrators with his dedication to the game of baseball.
At the age of 72, Bruce Doane Sr. passed away. However the umpire camp, which is widely considered one of the best umpire camps in the country, continues each year. His son, Bruce Doane Jr., is committed to ensure that the camp along with his father’s vision is carried out each year.
The Bruce Doane Sr. Umpire Camp instructors combine for over 300 years of experience at all levels of play with very impressive individual resumes. Co-Camp Director Rich Fetchiet, who has officiated at the Olympic games, was named “Umpire of the Year” in 1997 by the International Baseball Association and is the current supervisor of the Collegiate Baseball Umpires Alliance. Co-Camp director, Dick Runchey, officiated professional baseball, and is the Executive Director of the Amateur Baseball Umpire Association and Supervisor of Baseball Umpires for numerous collegiate conferences such as the Big Ten, Big Twelve, Conference USA, and MAC among others.
The incredible instructors and wealth of knowledge are what attracts many participants from all over the country and world to this camp, according to Bruce Doane Jr.
“There are no war stories,” said Doane Jr. “It’s not about us, it’s all about them. There are no egos, my dad wouldn’t have that.”
Each instructor is handpicked with umpires from all over the country interested in being a part of this successful camp. Bruce Doane Sr., a former marine, character and integrity are what mattered most to him when choosing instructors.
“We aren’t in it for the money,” said Doane Jr. “We have a desire to teach people to be better umpires. Each year it gets better and better,” says Doane Jr.
GRCC Head Baseball Coach Mike Cupples has been a part of the camp since 1992. Besides the knowledge the campers gain from the instructors he explained that many of the instructors also assign umpires to games.
“The campers get the opportunity to work with assignors,” said Cupples. “It’s a great avenue to be seen. In our league we’re a stepping stone and people are always moving up to the next level if they’re good.”
The camp covers everything from new rules and rule changes, mechanic instructions, situation and people management training, videotaped plate work and live two-man base work.
All of these benefits keep umpires coming back year after year.
“We have such a camaraderie and enthusiasm, said Doane Jr. “There are so many lifetime memories. The clinic has a legacy that is enjoyable for everyone, the players, instructors and participants.”
GRCC’s baseball players have a vital role in the camp itself. The players feed the pitching machine and act as catchers, runners and fielders. This allows the campers to focus on umpiring instead of participating in the plays.
“The players get to see umpiring as a part of the game and that they aren’t always against you,” said Cupples. “They also learn to respect them by not calling them “Blue” and to run, not roll the ball to them in games.”
The profits from the camp go to the GRCC baseball program and assist the funding for their spring trip to Florida.
The 2011 Bruce Doane Sr. Camp proves to be a winning combination for everyone involved.
“In the dead of winter and before the season begins, it’s a pretty cool thing to do,” said Doane Jr. “I take a great deal of pride in seeing participants from the camp go on to be successful.”