The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

June 3, 2014

Two local umps are true blue

Longtime friends Pat Beebe and Dave Park will work D-IV state baseball semifinal together Thursday

More than a quarter-century ago, two guys began umpiring Little League games together.

Come Thursday, the men in blue will work together on the big stage — the state baseball tournament at Huntington Park in Columbus.

Pat Beebe and Dave Park will be part of the crew that works the Division IV state semifinal between Defiance Tinora (23-4) and Convoy Crestview (20-6) at 10 a.m.

Beebe will be behind the plate, while Park will be manning first base. Both guys are very much looking forward to it, especially since they were chosen as part of voting done by coaches and athletic directors across the state.

Both will be making their first appearances at the state-tournament level, having worked together in a Division I regional championship game between St. Edward and North Royalton last week at Cuyahoga Community College.

The fact they are working together makes it pretty much a perfect storm for both men.

“I was talked into being umpire in chief for the Little League in Jefferson, it had to be back in 1987 or 1988,” Park, a 1970 Jefferson graduate said. “And it wasn’t much after that I approached Pat and we got into it, pretty much at the same time.”

“It’s all Dave’s fault,” Beebe, a 1978 Jefferson graduate said through a laugh. “He’s the guy who got me involved, so we can all blame him.”

He quickly added, though, “and, boy, am I glad he did.”

The two men have formed a long, comfortable game-first relationship, one that will be on display for all to see Thursday.

“There really is a chemistry with Dave and me,” Beebe said. “We can always tell what the other is thinking.

“I guess that comes from working together for so long and having equal interests in putting what’s good for the game first.”

“I know it sounds different, but umpires really are a third team on the field,” Park said. “With me and Pat, there is complete comfort and communication. We know what the other is thinking, even before it’s said.

“The fact we both love what we do, on top of being able to do it together, really makes it that much more special.”

Beebe, 54, grew up on the family farm, so he was able to play baseball only through Little League.

“The responsibilities of being on the farm with Dad really make it pretty much impossible for me to keep playing,” he said. “But I didn’t mind, I knew what was needed and expected of me.

“But I always loved the game and have always appreciated the opportunity to remain part of it.”

Park’s playing days lasted a bit longer.

“I played through my sophomore year in high school,” he said. “Like Pat, I always maintained a love for the game. And when you get too old to play, you have to find some other way to stay in the game, so we chose umpiring.

“It’s worked out very well for both of us. We have a blast working the games and doing it together only enhances it.”

Both men are retired. Beebe was an operating engineer for three decades. He had major back surgery seven years ago, an operation which he comes all the way back from, he said, but still requires postgame stretching for body maintenance purposes.

“I work at staying in shape and doing cardiovascular all winter,” Beebe said. “It helps me to keep the weight off and allows me to keep moving on the ballfield come each spring.”

Park, 62, retired from the Ohio Department of Transportation in April 2012. He still operates a concrete business in the summer.

“The business is pretty demanding in the summer,” Park said. “I used to do more than a 100 games a year, adding all the summer games in, but I had to give that up, both for the business and, yeah, probably for my body, too.”

Park was laughing when he said that, something both guys are quick to do.

“I was a catcher during my playing days, so I guess being behind the plate is where I’m meant to be,” Beebe said with a laugh. “I guess I’m just at home, there... so to speak.”

“To me, the game is like they said in ‘Bull Durham,’” Park said. “You hit the ball... you catch the ball... you throw the ball.”

On Thursday, Pat Beebe and Dave Park, two of less than 100 men chosen from a field of more than 3,800 to work past the district level, will both make the call.

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