For the City Times
Starting on opening day the Northwoods League will use three-man umpire crews at all league games for the 2016 season. Traditionally only two-man crews have been used in the NWL and three-man crews are mainly found in the upper levels of minor league baseball.
Last season at the All-Star game, several conversations around umpiring was had with some of the Northwoods League’s most seasoned managers. The league has always been successful with young umpires working in the league, often times younger than some of the players. However, there was a growing feeling that the level of play in the Northwoods League had reached a point where even two experienced umpires would have difficulty working the current two-umpire system.
During the offseason, the NWL Umpire Supervisors, consisting of Larry Rose, Winston Wood and Bob Bainter had a discussion, and approached the league with the idea of increasing the crew size to a third umpire. The leadership of the Northwoods League thought it was a great idea, and gave approval to move to the three-man crews for 2016.
“I’m extremely happy that we have increased the number of umpires on the field to three this season” said Northwoods League Umpire Supervisor, Bob Bainter. “The Northwoods League has outgrown the two-umpire system, and this will only increase the level of our umpires, not to mention the added opportunities for young umpires to work in our league. I think it will eliminate some of the inherent coverage issues that come with a two-umpire crew by adding that extra umpire out there, and lead to a much smoother game for not only the umpires, but the fans, as well.”
“The Northwoods League has always been focused on developing talent, be it on the field, in the front office, or with our umpire crews” said League President, Gary Hoover. “Now, by moving to a three-man crew for all games, the Northwoods League will provide more young umpires the chance to excel while simultaneously assuring a superlative experience for our fans.”