Two Little League umpires honored for their service

By David Pan | Jul 11, 2018
Photo by: Mukilteo Little League Jason Becker is presented the District 1 Baseball Umpire of the Year award by District 1’s Umpire-in-Chief Regina Boyd.

Two of Mukilteo Little League’s own were recognized for their excellence in umpiring.

Jason Becker and Michael Lechnar both received Umpire of the Year awards.

Becker was named the 2018 Joe Fisher District 1 Baseball Umpire of the Year and Lechnar was named the 2018 Joe Fisher District 1 Softball Umpire of the year.

Fisher was a District 1, high school baseball and softball umpire and Little League volunteer for more than 30 years.

For the last four years, Becker has been Mukilteo Little League’s Umpire-in-Chief, which encompasses a number of responsibilities, including the recruitment, training and scheduling of umpires for both baseball and softball. Becker also works as many games as possible and serves as a resource for younger umpires.

“It was a very nice acknowledgment of the work I’ve been doing this year, both on-and-off the field,” Becker said.

Becker has served a number of roles with Mukilteo Little League, ranging from umpire to coach to board member. He started umpiring six years ago.

Becker knows what it’s like to be on the other side, as he has coached son Aidan since he was 4 years old. This year was Aidan’s final season of Little League baseball.

In many ways, Becker views umpiring as the best kept secret in Little League.

“It’s a ton of fun to be out on the field with the players,” he said. “It’s a huge opportunity to make a positive difference in a game. A well-trained umpire makes a huge difference in how the game is played. … Games go more smoothly when we’re doing our jobs as umpires and coaches. We’re doing it for the same reason – to give the kids the best experience we can.”

Lechnar previously has received recognition on a regional and national level.

He umpired the Little League Softball World Series in 2016 and also worked the West Region tournament in 2012.

“I’m very proud that I was recognized by my local league,” said Lechnar, who was scheduled to leave for the West Region Junior Softball tournament in Tucson, Arizona, this week. “I work real hard at it. I’ve been at it for a while.”

Lechnar has been calling balls and strikes for about 25 years. He began umpiring when his son Michael and daughter Elizabeth starting playing baseball and softball.

In addition to working softball and baseball games, Lechnar also is the District 1 tournament director, in which he organizes the various all-star and state tournaments.

“I take pride in running the tournaments like my games – organized and calm and following the rules,” Lechnar said.

The qualities needed to be a good umpire are consistency, knowledge of the rules and an even temperament, Lechnar added.

Perseverance and patience, especially for new umpires, also are important.

“Don’t get discouraged early, especially if parents and managers are on your case,” Lechnar said. “You have got to have confidence you know what you’re doing. You’ve got to give it enough time to really learn to like it.”

Lechnar noted that number of volunteer umpires in the Mukilteo Little League has grown steadily through the years in large part to the efforts of Becker.

“He’s done an outstanding job of reviving the program,” Lechnar said.

Becker considers Lechnar, who also was at one time the league’s umpire-in-chief, to be his mentor and his best resource.

“He’s been a big difference in my success,” Becker said. “It’s always fun to work on the field with him and behind the scenes. He’s taught me a lot.”

In the last 25 years, Lechnar has enjoyed the challenges and reaped the rewards of umpiring.

“You learn something new every game,” he said. “It’s a never-ending learning curve, a never-ending challenge. I recommend it as a hobby.”

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