By J.O. Parker
The Iowa Girls’ Coaches Association announced last month that Myron Jack, a long-time softball umpire, has been inducted into the Softball Umpire’s Hall of Fame.
Jack, who calls Victor home, learned of the honor on July 24.
“I met so many wonderful people throughout my umpiring career,” noted Jack. “The coaches, players, fans, and fellow officials I've gotten to know have made for a very rewarding career. To the umpires who mentored me along the way, thank you, this wouldn't have happened without your help. Special thanks to my wife, Rhonda, and the rest of my family, thank you for all of your support through the years. I have been truly blessed.”
Jack started umpiring in 1990. He said the HLV summer recreation program was needing umpires.
“I thought it would be an interesting way to get involved in games that I enjoy, and help kids maybe learn about the game,” he said. “Little did I know that I was the one who would be doing most of the learning.”
Jack worked youth ball for 10 years, mostly in Victor, but did umpire numerous tournaments in Marengo and Williamsburg.
In 2000, Jack said he talked with an umpiring crew at the high school game about getting started umpiring high school baseball and softball.
“They advised me to check out the Iowa City Athletic Officials Association,” recalled Jack. “I joined the ICAOA and attended pre-season meetings in Iowa City. They do a lot of assigning in the area, so that was the start of high school ball.”
Jack worked high school baseball from 2000 to 2003 and high school softball from 2000 – 2017, retiring after the 2017 season.
The Iowa Girls’ Coaches Association administers the halls of fame for coaches, administrators and umpires. They IGCA also selects the district and state coaches of the year honors. In addition, they name the all-state players after the season is over. They have a committee that takes nominations for the various awards, and then votes for the recipients.
“I was very fortunate to be one of the two umpires inducted for 2021,” Jack said.
The Softball Umpires Hall of Fame is an entity of the IGCA.
In addition to pre-season meetings and clinics, Jack said he typically umpired four, and sometimes five nights, a week.
“Many Saturdays were spent umpiring tournaments around the area,” Jack said. “I usually tried to keep my regular season games within a 75 mile radius from home, but occasionally would go further. I also refereed junior high and JV basketball for a number of years, usually working two to three nights a week.”
When asked what he enjoyed about being an umpire, Jack said meeting all the peope involved with sports in the State of Iowa.
“I have so many good memories, I just wish I would have written them down, it would make quite a book,” he said. “I always enjoyed interacting with the players and coaches. You really remember the great ones.”
Jack said he’s met many umpires from around the entire state.
“My first full-time partner was fellow Hall of Famer, Darrel Brand from Montezuma,” noted Jack. “He taught me so much about the game, and how to deal with people, especially in tough situations.”
Jack said he always enjoyed working the post-season.
“The atmosphere at those games is incredible, especially when you get deep into the tournaments,” he said. “I was fortunate enough to have umpired nine state tournaments, and two state championship games. I would encourage anyone to make the trip to Fort Dodge and see the state softball tournament in person. It is an amazing facility, and is so well run by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union.”
In wrapping up this honor, Jack said there is an extreme shortage of sports officials in every sports. He said the reasons are varied, but too many newer officials quit within the first two or three years.
“If you go to some of the games and listen, it's not too hard to figure out why some very promising officials don't stick with it,” noted Jack.
Jack said due to the shortage, he is going to get registered again, and possibly work some games.
“I’ll probably just fill in as needed,” he said.
He also wants to offer to mentor any new official that may need some help getting started.
“I'm so fortunate that my wife, Rhonda, and our family supported me and allowed me to pursue this avocation that I enjoyed so much,” noted Jack.