Trail’s Nathan Dann was honoured with the BC Baseball Umpires Association’s (BCUBA) Junior Umpire of the Year Award.
It takes character, commitment, and a calm demeanor to wear blue in baseball, and Nathan exhibited all those qualities to BCBUA Area Rep. and head umpire Bill MacMillan.
“I saw a young guy who was interested in how the game worked and whenever he got called he showed up to do the game,” said MacMillan. “He’s an interested young guy, he’s been doing a bunch of games for me and just has fun doing it.”
The award is not given out annually but only when there is a deserving individual who shows a serious dedication to umpiring and improving their craft on an off the field.
“I was really surprised,” said Dann. “I had no idea it was going to happen.”
The 17-year-old Dann started umpiring when he was 13 and has been calling balls and strikes for Trail Little League and Trail Youth Baseball’s Minor Division since then.
Over that time, MacMillan was impressed with Dann’s growth as an umpire.
“The thing about Nate is he’s a sponge. You tell him to do something differently once, he does it that way forever. That’s gratifying to see as a mentor, because he actually listens, and a teenager that listens they’re few and far between.”
Games were interrupted last season due to COVID, but he was back behind the plate this year when the leagues started up again at the end of May.
Dann is also an excellent player in his own right and plays for the U18 Orioles who began play in the BC Minor Baseball Association’s College Prep League last month. The two different perspectives have served him well.
“It’s really different being an umpire than being a player,” said Dann. “You have to pay attention more being an ump, you have to watch the ball at all times, you can’t take your eye off it.”
MacMillan also notes that being an umpire has also given Nate a competitive edge when playing for the Orioles.
“I think being an umpire makes you a better ballplayer,” said MacMillan. “You learn the rules, how to apply them and you learn how to bend them, which I don’t particularly like, but it’s all part of the game.”
For Nathan, he also attributes his umpiring skills to his mentor MacMillan.
“He helped me a lot,” said Nathan. “I wasn’t the best umpire in 2018, then I met Bill and he taught me a lot.”
And when asked what he liked most about being an umpire, Nathan replied.
“I like to give kids tips and helping the young guys out there get better, and it’s just a really fun environment to be in,” smiled Dann. “Especially when you’re getting paid to be there, and doing something you really enjoy.”
The award also includes a trip to the coast to attend a Super Clinic where he’ll be tutored by professional Major League umpires. Congratulations Nathan.