If there’s a county baseball tournament title game on the schedule, chances are Warren Bennett will be on the field in blue, and behind the plate, vocally belting out the ball and strike calls.
He’ll be there for the Somerset County Tournament championship game Monday night between Ridge and Rutgers Prep at TD Bank Park. And he’ll calling balls and strikes for the GMC Tournament Championship game between St. Joseph-Metuchen and North Brunswick this coming Saturday as well.
And even when he wasn’t supposed to be working, just taking in the GMC Tournament semifinals, he was out on the field explaining to both coaches why there was a long delay: the heat had gotten to one of the umpires, and an alternate had to go and get his gear on to work the plate.
Bennett got involved as a baseball official when he was in high school, a way to make a few extra bucks. Now, his job is as vital as ever, for a variety of reasons. Fewer are going into the profession, and it’s created a shortage that’s at dangerous levels, sometimes forcing sub-varsity games to be postponed or cancelled due to a lack of officials.
Bennett is the president of the Mickey Sedlak Chapter of the New Jersey State Federation of Umpires, which includes baseball and softball officials mainly for Middlesex County. But, Bennett says the umpires in the group are so veteran and so well-respected, they’re often called upon to officiate games outside the area, even all the way up in Hudson County.
Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Warren Bennett talk about his experience as an umpire, the officials’ shortage, and how to get involved in being an umpire at the high school level or beyond: