High school administrators and baseball umpires are often targets of more than their fair share of ire. So deciding to devote your career to both endeavors might be enough for others to question your sanity.
Tom Smith never saw it that way.
Smith, a former athletic director at both Fairview and Holy Family high schools, is being inducted on Tuesday into the Colorado High School Baseball Umpires Hall of Fame on Tuesday in a ceremony in Denver. For him, the interaction with other umpires and coaches was the best part of the gig.
“I have great memories of partners I worked with and coaches,” Smith said Wednesday. “We’ve been fortunate in the Boulder area to have such great coaches.”
Like he’s abiding by an unwritten umpire code of what happens on the diamond stays on the diamond, Smith is reticent to divulge stories from the field — and he has a few — or single out the coaches with whom he most or least enjoyed working with.
“There was a mutual respect,” said Smith, who said he’d doled out fewer than five ejections during his baseball career.
Smith first got interested in officiating as a child when he’d accompany his referee father to football and basketball games. In addition to a 20-plus-year career officiating basketball, Smith spent 40 years calling baseball games before calling it quits two years ago. He still does softball games.
His credentials carry plenty of weight. He umpired four state championship baseball games behind the plate, including Rocky Mountain’s second of four straight championships in 2008, and four softball title games in the field.
“Those are always great memories, but mostly I think it was the people,” Smith said.
That includes the late Ken Furman, another local umpiring hall of famer whom Smith considers a mentor of his.
Also on the list are Smith’s two daughters and his wife, Hilary, who he says, “single-handedly I think raised our two girls.” All three will be at the ceremony Tuesday.
“It’s very humbling,” Smith said of the induction. “I’m grateful for it.
“It’s going to be fun. I look forward to it.”