By STEVE KRAH
After 45 years as a high school baseball umpire in Indiana and making his fourth appearance at the championships — circling the bases — Schellinger was the plate umpire for the Class 3A game Saturday, June 17 at Victory Field in downtown Indianapolis.
The weekend also saw the LaPorte resident recognized with the 2017 Interscholastic Athletic Official Association Award for excellence in baseball.
Why do it for this long?
“I love the game,” says Schellinger. “I started playing Little League baseball when I was 6 years old.
“I coached baseball for 27 years. This is a way to stay in baseball.”
Schellinger, a St. Joseph Valley Officials Association board member, began umpiring in Babe Ruth League games and got his first high school license at age 18 in 1972. He worked many high school summer games while coaching in the spring at South Central (Union Mills) and LaPorte. He was head baseball coach for the Satellites for 16 years and became a Slicers assistant under Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Ken Schreiber in 1995.
There is not secret formula for being a good umpire.
“You’ve got to work at it,” says Schellinger, who has officiated 15 sectionals, 12 regionals, four semistates as well as his State Finals appearances. “You’ve got to verse yourself in the rule book and the umpire’s manual. You’ve got to verse yourself in the case book over and over and over again. You’ve got to go to meetings. You’ve got to watch other officials.
“I picked up a lot of stuff when I was younger watching other officials.”
Even when umpires are in the stands, they tend to look at the game differently.
“If there’s a ball hit down the line, you’re not watching the ball, you’re looking to see (which umpire) is covering third base,” says Schellinger. “You get into that mode. That’s good because you see things. I’ve been licensed all these years and worked all these games and I still learn when I see things.”
Schellinger sees baseball umpiring as an ever-evolving profession.
“We have new techniques and new things we’re supposed to do,” says Schellinger. “We have to change with the times.”
Umpires typically work in two-man crews during the regular season with three-man crews at sectional title and four-man at the regional, semistate and state levels. With that comes different mechanics.
“Rotations are so much different because of where your second base umpire is,” says Schellinger. “I could talk about it for hours. It’s new to us, too, and we’ve got to get used to it.”
Schellinger, who is married to Lorri and has five children (Tricia, Rob, Mark, Kevin and Danny), teaches health and physical education at LaPorte High School. He retired as head football coach after leading the Slicers to a Class 5A state runner-up finish in his 22nd and last season in 2014.
Bob Schellinger was recognized as the 2017 Interscholastic Athletic Official Association Award for excellence in baseball. A licensed official since 1972, he worked behind the plate for his first IHSAA State Finals for the Class 3A game — South Bend St. Joseph over Jasper — on Saturday, June 17. (Steve Krah Photo)