Ted Miller will have a great view of the Division II World Series this week, mainly because he'll be wearing blue.
The 37-year-old Martinez resident is an umpire in the World Series, which began this weekend and will continue through next Saturday in Montgomery, Ala.
Miller is a member of the umpiring crew for the Peach Belt Conference and Southern Conference. He was the crew chief at the South Atlantic Regionals earlier this month at Kennesaw State University, but is making his first appearance in the World Series.
"This is definitely a great honor. I'm extremely proud to receive this," he said. "You're always looking to do a good job and be noticed."
Miller also was selected to work the Division II World Series in 2000, but his baseball background worked against him. Miller's father, Clyde, coached Gardner-Webb University to a World Series berth that season, and having a son umpire his father's game was problematic.
"When that happened the NCAA told me to stay home," Ted said. "That was the first time that situation had come up."
Miller has been coaching baseball teams since 1987, including the Riverside Middle School squad through the 2001 season. He also has been umpiring since 1988. With those experiences to draw from, he's ready to take the field and confidently call the World Series.
"I have a feel for the game, so I'm aware of what's going on," he said. "Most of us at this level can handle balls and strikes, or out-safe. But what I believe really separates umpires at this level is handling situations; when I say 'situations,' I mean players and coaches, when everything is going on and you have a hard slide at second base or a pitcher throwing at a batter."
While a batter has to quickly react to the pitch, umpires have to make calls within a split second. In that respect, even an ump feels the pressure, and they take their job seriously.
"When there's eight Division II teams left and six Division II umpires left, we're aware of what the teams have done to prepare for this," Miller says. "At the same time, the umpires have prepared also. We, as officials, have to be impartial. Our job is to make the game fair for both clubs."
Being fair doesn't mean being perfect - Miller admits he has missed calls, but notes that's part of baseball.
"Most of us know when we've kicked one," he says. "We don't need people telling us - we know."
Miller always hears, "Good job," from the winning team, but he says umpire also are subject to unwarranted abuse from fans.
"People say that's part of being an umpire, but if I walked into your place of business and started saying things to you that people say to me, you'd call 9-1-1."
This week Miller will be in his own place of business. He expects to work eight to 10 games at the World Series, and being behind the plate or in the field is definitely demanding.
"It's just like any other job," he said. "There's a lot of work and studying involved, and you need a little luck once in a while. You have to know 80 percent of the rules, and hope your partner knows the 20 percent you don't know."
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