Minor baseball ump aims for majors

Parksville woman has what it takes to get behind the plate in the major leagues

Oceanside umpire Chloe Elston — in action behind the plate last weekend — may be a rare bird behind home plate in terms of baseball

Oceanside umpire Chloe Elston — in action behind the plate last weekend — may be a rare bird behind home plate in terms of baseball

“Well, one thing for sure, we’ve got a good ump working this game,” Oceanside Minor Baseball prez Mike Parlow said off the cuff last Saturday as the players took the infield up at Springwood Old for warm-up prior to the start of the Peewee house league championship final.

“She was our umpire of the year last year,” he said, pointing to Chloe Elston. “And near as I can tell between us and softball she must umpire pretty much every day.”

As promised, Elston was as fair as she was unflappable behind home plate that game.

“When we presented the award to her (last year) I mentioned then it was the first time I can recall ever hearing three different people compliment an umpire — I mean it’s almost unheard of to hear someone complimenting an ump… to get one is rare, but to get three from three different people over the course of the year is ridiculous.”

Baseball may be a male dominated sport, but it’s clear Elston wears the pants come game time — she was also voted the North Island senior umpire of the year for 2011 over her male counterparts, and was nominated for the Islands.

“She’s umpiring midget games with guys two years older than her and holding her own out there,” chuckled Parlow.

Her passion for the game is evident, and with it comes a quiet confidence.

“It really doesn’t matter,” Elston answered quickly when asked about those instances when she’s being challenged, and for those who know the game, even at this level, know that umps have to have thick skin.

“As long as you’re calm and stick to your calls and know what you’re doing… the umpire controls the game, they don’t, so… when there is a close call, when coaches approach me, I know my call is correct and I know what I’m talking about.”

Asked her take on the lone female in her lineup, OMB umpire coordinator Sheila Williams had great things to say about Elston, who is heading into her senior year at Ballenas Secondary School.

“Chloe is our only female umpire out of the 22 youth umpires on the roster for Oceanside Minor Baseball. She has shown herself to be an exceptional and confident umpire,” said Williams, explaining Elston “is knowledgeable in the rules of baseball and consistently calls a fair, clean game. Chloe is an exemplary umpire and role model for present and future umpires of all ages. She umpires all levels of baseball, from mosquito to midget.”

Elston also plays high-level fast-pitch at first base and as catcher for the Parksville Midget B Rage who are off to their provincials in Cloverdale July 15), and plays high school basketball for the Whalers.

“Overall, she is a gifted athlete, strong student, musician, and well rounded young person.”

I’ve always been a fan of baseball — it’s definitely my favourite sport,” Elston told The News when we caught up with her.

“I watch major league baseball all the time — I watch the umpires on TV, and I thought it would be a fun thing to do, so I thought I’d try it, and I really, really enjoy it.”

“Being around the game, I’ve had bad umpires before, so I wanted to be a good one. I wanted people to want me umping their game.

“I think just having a good eye and knowing the rules are the two main things, and keeping your composure,” she said with a maturity beyond her years about the keys to umping a good game.

“I’m going to do it as long as I can,” Chloe said without hesitation when asked where she sees herself going with it, then paused and made the point “I’d love to be the first woman umpire in the major league’s. That’s a lot of work to get there, but I mean someone’s gotta do it, right, so why not me?”