Officiating grows as Pecos League expands
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer
SANTA FE — Umpires — indeed, officials of any sort — are generally met with a love-hate relationship by fans. But officials are a huge part of any sporting competition, and the Pecos League has been doing its best to bring a better quality of umpires to the ballparks every year.
This year is no exception.
"The umpiring will be improved,” said commissioner Andrew Dunn.
The league will be bringing back umpires who "were widely known as the best umpires in the league,” Dunn said, as well as adding others from umpire school.
Leading the officiating crew in the north — Santa Fe, Las Vegas, Taos, Raton and Trinidad, Colo. — will be David Crawford, who’s been calling plays, he said, since he was 16 years old.
“I started with the little 6- and 7-year-olds and moved up every year,” he said. “And I just kind of keep moving up.”
He’s been a Division II umpire with the for Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference for four years, calling games for such schools as New Mexico Highlands in Las Vegas — on whose field the Rough Riders will play this year — Colorado State University Pueblo, Adams State and Colorado Mesa, and attended a professional umpiring school in 2009.
He also works summer leagues in Albuquerque and teaches umpiring clinics, and plans on using those teaching skills to help the other northern umpires improve their abilities. Those umpires — all from Santa Fe, as is Crawford — include Edward Padilla, Danny Lujan, Matt Martinez, Richard Salazar, Eric Lujan and Harold Moya.
Crawford said he’s worked with those umpires in summer leagues, calling them, “Just a bunch of good guys who I’ve worked with and I can have do a higher lever with me.”
He said he’s the only one of the group certified to officiate college games, but said that’s because “it’s very, very hard to get in a college conference in this country. You have to be really, really good at what you do. As far as me, what I’ve been taught at the schools and the national clinics that I have to go to, I bring back to my community so we can be better as a community of officials as opposed to just one guy.”
Being an umpire is seemingly a position that draw no love, but Crawford said he was excited to return to the Pecos League, especially as head umpire.
“I had a good year last year. Everybody seemed to like me. Like my officiating,” he said. “Andrew Dunn was impressed with me and my partner and he gave me the call and I accepted it. I feel like we could bring our local umpires up to the northern region, good umpires, and I think we could do good for this league. That’s why I got involved in it.”
He said he was especially happy officiating in his home-town Fort Marcy Park.
“I have to say I like Santa Fe and the home crowd,” he said. “They didn’t give me any grief at all. They kept on asking for me.”
And he’s excited to get back in action.
“Oh, man, I’m ready to go,” Crawford said. “To be honest, my first game is in two weeks at Highlands University, so I’ll already have a bunch of games under my belt before the season starts, and I’m looking forward to the season.”
In the south, Dunn said, the league was able to retain Jim Sayer and Steve Liddell, who’ve been officiating in the Las Cruces market for three years "and were widely known as the best umpires in the league."
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