John Habib's City Sports: Big honor for Little League's Marston
Veteran umpire Dick Marston is about to work his first Little League Baseball East Regional tournament, but don’t tell him it’s taken a lifetime to get there.
“Hey, I’m only 73 years old,” he laughed.
The East Regional — scheduled for Aug. 1-10 in Bristol, Conn. — is actually two tournaments in one, determining both the New England and Mid-Atlantic champions. Marston will umpire Mid-Atlantic games.
“I’m very proud to have been selected. It’s a great honor, and I have many people to thank, including Don Kirkland,” he said, referring to New Hampshire’s District I commissioner. “In the Manchester area alone, we’ve had some great umpires selected to the regionals, people like Jack Caron, Kevin West and Mike Robinson. I’m in some very good company.”
And still going strong.
At an age where many umpires have hung up their chest protector, Marston still averages between 100 and 120 games a season, and as the regional assignment shows, he’s still considered to be at the top of his game.
Now in his 36th season of calling balls and strikes, Marston has been associated with many leagues as both an official and administrator. He’s served as president of three Manchester leagues, twice leading Manchester Central (1985-87, 1991) and doing one stint each with Manchester West (2004-06) and Manchester West Side (2007-11). Currently, he serves as West Side’s vice president.
While next month’s regional will be Marston’s first at Little League’s flagship level, for 11- and 12-year-olds, he has plenty of experience with major tournaments at the Senior Little League level, for players ages 14-16. He directed three regional tournaments in Manchester and in 1990 worked as an umpire at the Senior Little League World Series in Kissimmee, Fla.
“I worked in 23 World Series games that year and was one of six umpires chosen that week to work in the championship game of that tournament,” he said. “I have worked many District I and state tournament games and finals. I’ve also done State Senior Little League tournament games and other local baseball tournaments but that national tournament in Kissimmee is still my highest honor as an umpire.
“Having said that,” he added, “getting selected to the regionals this year is a close second.”
When Marston isn’t busy with Little League, you can find him in Concord serving as a state representative from Manchester’s Ward 12.
“Not in August,” he said. “I always tell my colleagues in Concord that August is the month I really commit my time to the kids, working tournaments and attending the World Series in Williamsport.”
After working the regionals in Bristol this summer, Marston said, he’s planning his fourth straight trip to Williamsport, Pa., to volunteer as an usher.
“You get to meet some wonderful people there, make new friends and watch the top Little League teams around the world compete in person,” he said. “Little League baseball keeps me young at heart, and anyone who knows me will tell you I’m a marshmallow for kids.”
Asked if he dreams of umpiring a World Series in Williamsport some day, Marston said, “Absolutely. But to get there, you must first work a regional tournament. I’m going to enjoy the regionals this year and then hope someday I can umpire in the World Series.”
Marston said local umpires Ray Valliere and Fred Jasinski Sr. were among the first umpires to teach him the trade. Marston said he’s been to three Little League umpire schools, including his first one in 1990 at Williamsport under legendary Little League umpire Frank Rizzo.
On Aug. 10, one day after Marston celebrates his 74th birthday, the Mid-Atlantic championship game will be televised live on ESPN2. Based on performance during the week, Marston said, a committee will select the six umpires to work the final. So how would he feel if he were chosen to work the plate on national TV?
“If that happened, it would definitely surpass my experience at Kissimmee,” he said with a laugh.
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THE MANCHESTER Catholic High School Hall of Fame committee has announced its 2014 inductees. Five athletes and two coaches will be honored at the annual banquet on Saturday, Nov. 8, at 6 p.m. in Trinity High School’s McHugh Gymnasium.
Honorees include Roger Paradis (Bishop Bradley, 1954), Roger Godin (St. Anthony’s, ’56); Greg Wenger (Trinity ’76), Christopher Roy (Trinity ’87) and Luke Bonner (Trinity 2004).
Paradis and Godin both excelled in football and baseball. Wenger was the starting center on basketball teams that won back-to-back Class L championships in 1975 and ’76, earning first-team all-state honors as a senior. Roy was a four-sport star, competing in football, basketball, track and field and baseball.
Bonner played four seasons of varsity basketball and was a two-time Gatorade New Hampshire Player of the Year, in 2003 and ’04. A 7-foot center and forward, and younger brother of two-time NBA champion Matt Bonner, Luke spent three seasons at West Virginia before concluding his college playing career at UMass Amherst. He also played professionally in Europe and in the NBA’s D-League.
The coaches entering the hall are Dr. John Hurley (ice hockey) and Eddie Poisson (baseball).
A 1956 graduate of Manchester’s Bishop Bradley High, Hurley coached for 14 seasons at his alma mater’s descendent, Trinity, leading the Pioneers to a state title in 1988 and runner-up finishes in 1990 and ’91.
Poisson served as head coach for 27 seasons before stepping down after the 2013 campaign. His teams never missed the state tournament, and he coached two players who went on to play in the major leagues, Chris Carpenter and Jeff Fulchino. He led the Pioneers to the 1992 state title, and his 1991 and 2007 clubs finished runner-up in the state tournament.
"City Sports” is published Saturdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email staff reporter John Habib at email@example.com.