Vernon umpires chosen to work the SPN Nationals in Kelowna this weekend

Vernon umpires chosen to work the SPN Nationals in Kelowna this weekend

Umpires chosen for SPN in Kelowna

Vic Rantio jokingly figures he was chosen to work the Slo-Pitch National (SPN) Championships this weekend in Kelowna because he’s 73

They actually have provincial deputy umpire in chiefs select the officials for national slo-pitch playdowns.

Vic Rantio jokingly figures he was chosen to work the Slo-Pitch National (SPN) Championships this weekend in Kelowna because he’s 73.

“I think it’s based on seniority; they probably said ‘give the old man one more chance,’” smiled Rantio, a Revelstoke-born legend in local umpiring circles.

Rantio and fellow Vernon umpires Wendy Filbrandt, Pat Clemens and Chris Lynch were nominated to do the Men’s and Women’s D and Men’s 35C divisions in Kelowna.

“I prefer doing the plate because you get more action (than umping the bases),” said Rantio, an umpire for five decades. “We’ll be doing 14 or 15 games in Kelowna.”

Rantio played first base and smacked singles for Paul Worth’s Western Sportswear & Cresting Generals in the old Vernon Major Men’s Fastball League. This will be his 10th national posting.

Rantio, a retired liquor store manager, was the 2012 winner of the Kelly Roste Memorial Trophy awarded by the Vernon Umpires Association for dedication and determination.

He started umpiring in the 1970s when players in small northern B.C. towns had to officiate their own games.

Rantio has worked four Canadian playdowns, two westerns, the World Master Games, the Native nationals, Canada Cup and the B.C. Summer Games. He has been a District 9 fastpitch clinician for 20 years and UIC for 10 years. Vic also served as deputy chief for SPN.

Filbrandt brings a softer, kinder female touch to the game as she officiates her sixth nationals.

She has been umpiring for 26 years and received an e-mail a month ago confirming her role in the nationals.

“They look at your experience and your track record,” she said. “It’s awesome; I think it’s great. I’m really looking forward to the nationals. There will be teams from all over Canada it’s going to be really cool to get to know some new people.”

Filbrandt, a mother of two, has worked fastball and slo-pitch games, while playing catcher and the outfield in slo-pitch.

Born in Claresholm, Alta., Filbrandt worked at the Village Market for the last nine years.

Clemens, 56, was a catcher in baseball as a young teen, switching to slo-pitch at 17. He patrolled left field when the Village Green Brewers won the 1998 national men’s slo-pitch title in Niagara Falls.

He took a few courses and began umpiring in 2000. He has refereed basketball for 20 years.

“In basketball, you have a partner and you can get feedback, but here (fastball, slo-pitch) you’re on an island by yourself,” said Clemens, a government worker born in Armstrong. “You may think you are doing a good game, but you’re never sure.”

He finds the umpiring job as a social thing and enjoys being stationed as a base ump. This will be his second nationals.

“In a two-man system, you either work the plate or the bags. There is more action on the bags for sure; you’re always moving around and following runners.”

Lynch, 61, was born in Vancouver and played baseball at age eight in Kitsilano before switching to fastball at 18. He saw action at shortstop, third base and catcher. This is his fifth nationals.

“It’s always an honour,” said Lynch. “I like to stay close to home so Kelowna will be nice. I do both the bags and the plate, but mostly the plate where your muscle memory takes over in a hurry, in the heat of the moment.”

A retired postal worker, Lynch coached his daughters, Lindsay and Melissa, both pitchers, all through minor fastball, taking them to a few provincials and B.C. Summer Games, where both girls bagged bronze medals.

Lynch won the 2014 Kelly Roste Memorial Trophy. He expects the Vernon foursome will work four games a day in Kelowna. The tournament started Thursday.