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U-18 Men's Softball World Cup 2020 - Official Payoff

Bob Stanton, WBSC Softball Umpire Director: “We had a really good mixture here in Palmerston North”

Bob Stanton, WBSC Softball Umpire Director: “We had a really good mixture here in Palmerston North”
03/03/2020
Bob Stanton is the Chair of the WBSC Softball Umpiring Commission, WBSC Softball Umpire Director and will be the Softball Umpire Director at Tokyo 2020. At the recently completed U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup, he was the Chief Umpire.

Umpires are a big part of the game. Calling balls, strikes and outs, they are responsible for guaranteeing the fairness of the game for both teams. This is a difficult yet very satisfying role, especially with fans offering plenty of guidance from the stands.

Overseeing the umpire crew at every tournament, helping them to improve and develop into better officials for the good of the game, is the Chief Umpire. On the occasion of the U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup it was Canadian Bob Stanton, the WBSC Softball Umpire Director.

As the Chief Umpire, Stanton has a key role. He coordinates the umpire crew and decides who would be working in what position for each game. During the games, he evaluates his umpires to offer suggestions after the game and help them to improve.

“We had a really good mixture in Palmerston North. We tried to bring to the event the umpires that we are seriously looking at for the Olympics, to start to build that Olympic family. And then we have also brought in other umpires with less experience, giving them a great learning opportunity, sharing with those more experienced umpires,” said the WBSC Softball Hall of Fame member since 2015.

“The U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup is a very competitive tournament, we thought it was a great chance to introduce some of our stronger female umpires in a men’s events as well, so we can show the world that our umpire training and the umpires that are being trained are capable to do both men’s and women’s ball.”


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Seven out of 15 umpires calling balls and strikes in Palmerston North were female, another proof of the gender balance in softball umpiring and the sport as a whole.

“You never get the total 50-50 balance in your crew, but I think the important thing is to recognize the ability and the skills, no matter if you are male or female. If you’re a good umpire, you’re a good umpire because you know the rules, you know the mechanics, and you realize where you must be in every situation. Not because you’re a male or a female.”

Olympics in mind

Stanton, who served as Umpire in Chief for softball at Beijing 2008 and will be the Softball Umpire Director at Tokyo 2020, couldn't over emphasis the importance of how the U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup was a good training opportunity for the Olympic Umpire crew.

“It is the first time these umpires will actually work together. For me, that’s really important. No matter if you’re an Olympic umpire, if you don’t know the tendencies of the other umpires and how they react in certain situations, it’s going to be very difficult for them if something strange happens.

“In the U-18 Men’s Softball World Cup many strange things can happen, because of the skill and growing level of the athletes, so this is a great opportunity for umpires to see each other and how they react in each situation.”

It's all about the preparation & team spirit

Athletes and fans see the umpires performing on the field, but their game-day routine starts much earlier, just as the teams do.

“On the day of the game, umpires must make sure they’re well-rested, and the key for them is to do stretching in the morning, just like an athlete. If you stretch in the morning, you’ll have your body ready for the rigour of a long day. You might have an extra-innings game, or you might be assigned for two games. So it’s about getting your body ready. Then sitting down before the game as a crew and talk about some situations and how they are going to handle it. We try to arrive at the venue at least one hour and a half before the game, I think it’s a good time to relax. And finally, we have our pre-game briefing.”

Usually known as the third team on the field, the bond and the team spirit is a key aspect for the success on the field.

“Every umpire can be in a wrong position at a certain moment of the game. But if the other umpires share that family feeling, then they can come in and help in this situation. That’s why it’s so important, the team building.”


Bob Stanton, 70, is the Chair of the WBSC Softball Umpiring Commission. He began his involvement in softball in Canada as a team manager in 1976 before becoming an umpire in 1983, followed by his international umpire certification in 1994. In 2001, he was named North American Umpire In Chief (UIC) and then Deputy Director of Umpires in 2006 for the International Softball Federation (ISF). His first international assignment as UIC came at the Pan American Qualifier in 2006 and Pan American Games in 2007. In 2008, he was appointed ISF Director of Umpires. He has served as UIC at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, many multi-sport Games, and all softball world championships since 2008 – a role he still holds until now.


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