Welbaum Keeps Giving Back

From the Sidelines

Tom Welbaum is the epitome of the phrase “he’s such a nice guy”.  Tom is the City Administrator for Ansonia, and a 1984 graduate of Newton High School. Tom grew up in Circle Hill, just south of Bradford.  Tom got the job of Administrator after Norcold downsized where he had worked for years.  Tom has been village administrator since 2009, and I can tell you that he works at it and takes the job seriously.

The funny thing about Tom is he doesn’t say much, so I was surprised to see him umpiring a softball game in Greenville one evening.  After the game, I told Tom I didn’t know he was an umpire, and he said he had been doing it for 34 years.  I watched the game and noticed Tom early, so I kept an eye on him to see how he handled things.  I was impressed.  He umpires like he does his job; quietly, efficiently, and without any fanfare.  You hardly know he’s there, which is perfect for an official!

In High School, Tom played baseball and basketball and liked baseball better.  After graduation, Tom went to Edison State College and played 2 years of baseball there.  While he was there, he needed an elective, so he took an umpiring class.

The teacher of the class was also an umpire, so Tom and two others went to a game in Troy, sat in the bleachers while he was umpiring, and took his test!  This was in 1986. In 1988 he got married so he didn’t umpire for 2 years, but in 1990, Tom contacted Roger Collins the assigner for the Darke County Umpires Association.  Roger sent Tom the test, he passed and has been umpiring ever since.

I asked Tom what he loved most about umpiring?  Tom said, “Well, I just love giving back to the kids.  You know, somebody was there for me when I was playing, so I can give back.  I also love the interaction, there has been a lot of changes over the years, but being there for the kids is the most important.  It is neat that I am umpiring kids now whose parents I umpired when they were in High School!”

Tom understands the position; half the people are going to love you, and half are not.  He does not go looking for trouble in the game, he is not ticky-tacky, he umpires the game as it should be called, to make sure both teams are treated fairly.

I asked him what he sees in the future for sports officials?  “The biggest change I’ve seen is with the attitudes.  Some coaches just want to argue, and that attitude bleeds over to the kids and others.  That is the biggest change I’ve seen.”

Tom does between 20 and 30 softball and baseball games a year.  This year has been hard because of the weather and trying to get officials for make-up games. This year Tom has umpired 22 games and had 8 rained out.  As of this writing he has 3 playoff games so far, 2 softball and 1 baseball game.

I asked him if he had any advice for someone wanting to become an official or umpire.  Tom said “If you truly love the game, get involved.  You’re gonna make mistakes, learn from it and if you truly love it, just go out and enjoy it. You’re gonna get criticism, just let it roll off your back, and have fun.”

Tom is proud of Ansonia and what has been accomplished since he has been there.  He wants to see more industry in town, but sees possibilities for the future.  Ansonia does have a brighter future as long as people like Tom are there.  So does sports.

We need more people like him; those willing to give back and help when needed.  The sporting community needs good officials, and in Ansonia, they have one, and a good hard worker to boot!  That’s the way I see it, from the sidelines.

Ansonia City Administrator and OHSAA softball and baseball umpire Tom Welbaum and Darke County Commissioner Michael Stegall. (Gaylen Blosser photo)
OHSAA umpire Tom Welbaum umpires a recent Greenville Lady Wave softball game. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

Mike Stegall / Correspondent

Mike Stegall is a GHS alum and played on the Green Wave's only undefeated football team. Served 27 years as an OHSAA football official and currently serves as a Darke County Commissioner

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