September

Professor Serves as Umpire in Little League Softball World Series

News Story: September 1, 2012
Dr. Brian Marks

Dr. Brian A. Marks, adjunct professor in Sacred Heart University’s department of Government and Politics, knows just as much about playoff races as he does political races — of the miniature variety, that is. Marks has been umpiring Little League games for almost four decades, and last month received the honor of honors among his peers when he was chosen to umpire the Little League Softball World Series.

“It was an incredible experience,” says Marks. “To see the players, the coaches — it’s not just playing the game; it’s also the socialization and the interaction. The quality of play is great, but the camaraderie and the sportsmanship is, too.”

Marks umpired his first game 38 years ago in his hometown of Searingtown, N.Y. The often thankless job quickly became a lifetime passion. Though he ranges from league to league, his home is Connecticut Little League District 2. He also has longtime experience officiating NCAA and high school softball in Connecticut. In fact, he says he is best known as a softball official, but he always maintains affection for the game that first introduced him to umpiring.

Marks in position at the
Little League Softball
World Series

 “I love Little League,” he says. “Basically anytime they call, I cannot say no. It’s too important to youngsters who play. If you ask any college player today, most – if not all – will say their first taste of baseball or softball was Little League. Umpiring is a way for me to give back as a volunteer – right where it all starts for these kids.”

In the 2012 Softball World Series, Marks worked the 12-year-old division, which played in Portland, Ore. His workload included one or two games per day and the honor of working second-base for the championship game.

Marks says the worlds of umpiring, teaching and doing research on government, politics and economics are not dissimilar, which is why he enjoys them. “Umpiring is solving a puzzle in real-time,” he says. “It’s not only understanding the artistry of the game; it is needing to make decisions based on sound judgment and the rules. You have to know those rules, you have to interpret those rules, you have to apply those rules, and you have to do it instantaneously – sometimes in the blink of an eye. There is no instant replay at the time of your decision. You are expected to be perfect at the start of the season and get better as the season progresses. In essence, I can bring together everything I do professionally in an hour and a half, whether in a classroom or on a ball field.”