US baseball official with autism has umpired for 27 seasons

Encouragement and support can empower individuals with autism to excel in sports. Photos: 123rf

As the high baseball season closes in on its California Interscholastic Federation (CIF)-Southern Section championship games in California, the United States, it marks the end of another umpiring season for Jim Trentin.

He just finished his 27th as a high school baseball umpire in Orange County, California.

The Orange County Baseball Officials Association (OCBOA) in Orange County has several umpires that have around that long, close to that long or even longer.

What makes Trentin’s longevity and dedication even more remarkable is that Trentin is autistic.

Trentin, 63, said he was diagnosed with autism at four. He has worked for the United States Postal Service and for his late parents’ property management business. But his favourite job of all has been officiating high school football games and umpiring high school baseball games.

“I’m spending time with the younger generation,” Trentin said. “And I’m helping people out. That’s what I like about it.”

Individuals with autism can display their sporting prowess when bolstered by the support of their community. Individuals with autism can display their sporting prowess when bolstered by the support of their community.

Trentin, an alumni of Katella High School in Anaheim, California, will drive his Honda Accord wherever an Orange County football or baseball assignor needs him to work a game.

Paul Caldera is the Orange County Football Officials Association assignor, which is the person who assigns officials to work games. Caldera said he appreciates Trentin’s commitment and reliability.

“His heart for the game is huge,” Caldera said. “His heart for the players is huge. He’s always just a phone call away when we need him, and I can always depend on him to show up.”

A friend recommended to Trentin that Trentin look into officiating.

“So I went to all kinds of umpire training and football officiating training,” he said.

The assignments did not come right away.

“A lot of it is acceptability,” Trentin said. “I’d been shot down several times. When I first started, some people didn’t want me around.”

The late Frank Lerner, Orange County baseball umpires assignor for many years and also a longtime football official, was among the first to become a Trentin ally.

Baseball coaches like Mike Curran at Esperanza High School in Anaheim in California and Bob Zamora at Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo, California started using Trentin for intrasquad games and they became among Trentin’s eariy advocates.

“I did a lot of intrasquad games and scrimmages,” Trentin said. “I just wanted to learn how to be a better umpire. Then I finally started to be accepted.”

Trentin worked a full schedule of Orange County varsity baseball games this season along with some lower-level games. Umpires get evaluated during the regular season.

Between seasons county baseball umpires are required to take a written test that includes rules and game situations.

“It’s a qualifying test that’s usually 50 questions,” said Dick Jolly, a veteran member of OCBOA’s board of directors.

“Jim’s one of the guys who aces that test every year.”

Trentin is popular with county baseball coaches and players. Kevin Lavalle, coach of Beckman High School in Irvine, California said he has known Trentin for 25 years.

“He’s super-genuine,” Lavalle said, “and he’s a really good umpire. He’s got a heart of gold. There are few people in the world more genuine than Jim.” – The Orange County Register/Tribune News Service

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Disability , Autism , Umpire , Baseball


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