Liverpool Trojans Baseball Club Est.1946
For years Bernard “BJ” DeLorenzo was a familiar face to many of us involved in baseball in the UK, and particularly those that knew the Trojans.
First came BJ the player, then came BJ the manager as he took over the running of Liverpool Trojans in the early nineties. Once he had put his playing and coaching days behind him and became an umpire, he reached his highest level in the game.
Known to us simply as “Del”, Bernard repatriated to the States a few years ago, but never stopped following baseball in this country, and particularly the Trojans.
In a series of “letters from America”, Del wants to share with us some of his finest experiences and a love for umpiring that he never saw coming.
Here is the first instalment in which Del explains how he got into umpiring in the first place and how, even in the UK, he was able to experience so much through his love for the game.
After years of having Tommy Roddick umpire our baseball games I got used to hearing that saying. All the teams knew Tommy and all were content with his umpiring.
Tommy was a player during the golden days of the Norman Wells era and loved baseball ever since, but as age began to catch up with him, he realized that he could not umpire any longer.
This created a problem for the Trojans, as well as many other teams, as there simply weren’t enough umpires. Other teams had ex-players who could umpire their home games, but at that time, the Trojans did not.
I was still playing and managing, and the other senior player at the time, Chris Gee, just flatly refused to do the job - he had his run ins with umps and I guess he knew what to expect. The solution was either to pay for someone to travel a fair distance, (if we could get one at all,) or to get someone (anyone) from the team to step up. So “Del the ump” became a reality.
Initially, I started to umpire just our home games - a sticky situation really as I played for the Trojans and I had only recently stepped down as manager to pave the way for Chris Gee - Nonetheless, I persevered… In fact, the first person I ever ejected from a game was my old mate, Chris!
Later that year, I was convinced to go and attend an umpire clinic run by ABUA-GB (Amateur Baseball Umpires Association, Great Britain) and, I have to say, it was very informative. As a player you like to think that you know all about baseball, but as an umpire you realize that you have to know all that there is and so much more. When I came away from the clinic, I had a completely different view of umpiring, I felt inspired. I went away and invested in all the umpire equipment and, at the end of my first full season, I was chosen to do the Championship games in Brighton.
On arrival in Brighton, I was told that we would be working a three man system. “Three man, heck… I just about knew one man!” I exclaimed when I heard the news. Luckily for me, Jake Plieth and Ed Edsall were on hand to help out and I was given a 20 minute crash course in working the three man system. When game time came around, although I was apprehensive, I reckon I did okay and so did they.
Over the years I was chosen on many more occasions to do the championship games in Brighton and Croydon, and I loved it every time. But it was something that happened the following season that made me think that umpiring was my true calling in baseball, and true profession in life.
Right before the Championships, Mike Moorse was due to do a CEB (Confederation of European Baseball) assignment in Belgium, and for some reason he could not do it. The president of the ABUA-GB asked me if I wanted to do it. CEB is the top baseball in Europe, so I was excited and scared at the same time. If you mess up your first assignment, the chances are you won’t be chosen again. I accepted the invitation and came through the club tournament okay with a little help from my new found friends. In fact, I was chosen for 8 more European tournaments over the years, so I must have done alright.
One year, Ed Edsall rang me out of the blue and asked “Would you like to umpire in the Pony World Series?”
“Oh hell yeah! When is it?” I replied.
Ed then dropped the bombshell that it was the 3rd September… Well, that was the day my son was getting married and I was giving the bride away. So congratulations to my good friend Steve Williams, I’m sure you did ABUA-GB proud.
Since then I have had the pleasure of working with many great guys in umpiring in the UK, whether it be the London Tournament, the Championship games or just local divisional teams. It saddened me to leave the UK, and so many fantastic people involved in umpiring, but I’m sure the game and umpiring in general will survive my absence.
Until next time,