baseballumpire

Standing on the top of the Temple of Baseball

Liu Baijun, 33 years old, a baseball umpire (7 years of experience).

I am not the first female umpire in Taiwan, I am however the first and only woman to be an umpire-in-chief in a national game. I am a born fan of this sport; you could say that I grew up on a baseball field. I also considered joining a junior baseball team, but because I could communicate with ghosts when I was young, people would come to me for fortune-telling. At that time I was predominantly occupied with these sorts of things, you can say I was working in a “religion services industry”.

After missing the opportunity to join a junior team, also because I entered a regular education system, I never joined any baseball team. Nevertheless, my affection for baseball continued and I often played it with friends or went to the games. Especially when I was in university, I participated in different activities such as organizing baseball recreation camps, taking kids to play baseball, taking an interest in little league activities, etc. After university I started working as an interpreter for a foreign baseball team.

In my life as a baseball fan, there were several judgement calls that I couldn’t bear to see and I wished I was the umpire myself, so that there wouldn’t be any of those unreasonable calls. I also loved baseball so much that I would think of any possible way to get to stay on the field. As far as I was concerned, other than becoming a baseball coach or a player, umpire is the position that would allow me to be closest to the field.

Challenging the Gender Barrier

In order to obtain a basic C-level baseball umpire certification I participated in umpire camp. Following that, I still had to be involved as an intern in ten games before I finally got my license. After I signed up, someone would come every hour to “encourage” me: ‘women are really not suited to be umpires’, ‘after you pass the test, just go to be a note taker’. Someone even told me not to participate in the test at all, as even after passing it, it would be absolutely unlikely that anyone would hire a female umpire, there would be no one to take me as an apprentice.

In 2005 I smoothly obtained a certification. Hong Suming, at the time the Head of Taipei Baseball Umpire Committee, assigned me to a fixed position as a base umpire at a B-League baseball team for a period of time. As soon as I started, a senior warned me in a very clear manner that no one will take a chair on which I have sat before and that I absolutely cannot touch their stuff. Normally after serving as a base umpire, we could practice being a chief umpire. My colleagues in the same stage of training as me could work as chief umpire only after 10 games or so as base umpires. I, however, had to work as a base umpire for more than a hundred games, which is over a year, before I finally got a chance to work the plate, and still I was actively helped by Hong Suming.

Now I have met the training standards of American umpire schools and I am an international umpire. However, even very recently, while serving as an interpreter to umpire-in-chief in some game, when I helped to rub wax off the ball before the match, I heard someone shouting at me: “Woman, don’t touch the balls!”

 

Edited and Translated by Witold Chudy

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