MARYSVILLE — Most people go to baseball games to watch the players. Ron Bryant went to watch the umpires.
He was inducted into the softball officiating Hall of Fame Nov. 5 in Las Vegas. He was inducted for his management skills and his ability to train umpires.
“And that comes from hard work and dedication, commitment and excellence,” Bryant said. “It was a passion and a dream, to umpire ball games and be good at it.”
Bryant, 67, played baseball through Little League and all four years on varsity at Hillside High School in North Carolina. He was drafted into the Armed Forces right after he graduated, and he served for 25 years. But his proudest moment was officiating.
That was something Bryant wanted to do when he was 16 years old.
“I used to go to the park at night and look at the guys umpiring,” he said. “And it was kind of intriguing the way they did it.”
Growing up his favorite team was the New York Yankees, and he looked up to some players such as catcher Yogi Berra.
“I always wanted to be a professional baseball player when growing up. I was pretty good at it in North Carolina,” he said. “But then I got drafted.”
When in the service he played baseball, fast-pitch and slow-pitch softball, around the world.
But as he began to age, he decided to pick up umpiring in the 1970s as a secondary job. It would soon be one of his passions.
“It was just something that grew on me over the years,” he said. He wanted to umpire professionally, but couldn’t because he was moving around so much in the service.
Bryant moved to Washington state in 1975 when he transferred to Fort Lewis in Tacoma and played on the first slow-pitch team they ever had.
After that he officiated in Lakewood until retiring in 1992 to work for the correctional facility in Monroe. He moved to Marysville in 1992 and in 1994, his wife encouraged him to get back into officiating.
He saw a friend in Everett umpiring again, and it was there that he was introduced to the National Softball Association in 1999, where he officiated high school fast-pitch and baseball and trained other umpires for 14 years. “I always believed if you’re going to do something, do it right and to the best of your ability,” he said.