A Shoalwater man who has had a long and sometimes colourful career in baseball marked a milestone recently when he umpired at his 1500th game.
Ken Smith, 63, is known throughout the Australian baseball scene, having been involved with the sport since 1979.
He started out as an umpire with Rockingham Baseball Club, three years after helping his wife, Jane, establish softball in the area.
‘‘I played in eight baseball games at the club but I couldn’t hit the ball, so I asked if they were looking for umpires and they were,’’ he said.
‘‘I have been umpiring ever since and have been all over Australia with the game.
‘‘I’ve umpired in every State except Victoria and Tasmania. I’ve seen most of Australia through baseball.’’
He umpires training sessions twice a week and matches every fortnight, and attends national training events for umpires where they discuss rules and technical points of the game.
‘‘Baseball has been around for a long time. It was introduced in Australia in the 1930s, but it hasn’t changed much over the years, except that it’s growing in popularity. More people are getting involved,’’ he said.
Highlights of his career include umpiring at the longest game ever recorded in Australia, the 1989 A-Grade State league grand final in Perth, which ran on to 22 innings.
‘‘After 32 years, there is hardly anyone I don’t know in baseball,’’ he said.
‘‘There have been a few disagreements over the years. People make the odd objection, but most of the time it’s good natured.’’