By Judy Reed
This last week has been a dream come true for Cedar Trails principal Michael Duffy. After a 30-year love affair with umpiring college baseball games, he is finally officiating at the College World Series, in Omaha, Nebraska, which began last Saturday, June 13.
Duffy, who umpires for the Big Ten, Mid-American, and Big East Conferences, began umpiring college baseball in 1985, for smaller colleges. But his roots go much deeper. He played Little League as a boy, and then began to umpire Little League games when he was a high school baseball player. After graduation, he umpired high school games.
In 1985, he was approached by Terry Bocian, Athletic Director at Aquinas. “I knew Terry, and he said he needed an ump for just one game,” explained Duffy. But he was hooked. “It became a love affair,” he said.
Duffy at first umpired for smaller colleges, like Aquinas and Grand Rapids Community College. He’s been doing the Big 10 since 1995. “My mentor, Bruce Doane Jr., took me under his wing, showed me the ropes, then said you are ready to go out on your own,” he recalled.
What does Duffy like about umpiring? “I’ve always been a sports enthusiast. At first, I needed to make some money, but I loved being around sports and the competition. After awhile, I realized that ‘Hey, I’m pretty good at this.’ Then other people started to notice my skill level. It’s really just a thrill to be a part of it,” he said.
This year, Duffy umpired 42 Division 1 baseball games, which take place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The Post asked Duffy how that worked with his job as principal at Cedar Trails Elementary. “The school has been really good about it. Cedar Springs allowed me to restructure my contract so that I work less days,” he explained.
Duffy has been working hard to get to the College World Series. Over the years he has worked several NCAA Division I Regional Tournaments and one NCAA Division I Super Regional Tournament. He has also worked NCAA Division II, III, and JUCO Regional Tournaments. He has also umpired three baseball high school State Championships. With all that on his resume, there was still one thing they wanted him to do to reach the College World Series: take off a few pounds. Duffy did that, and this year, he finally got the call.
While Duffy didn’t have his schedule when we talked last week, he said that people could recognize him by the number he will be wearing—22. He got to choose his number, and it was a heartfelt decision. “My favorite number is 12. I wore it in school as a quarterback, and in baseball. But I decided the number to choose was #22—to honor the person who has sacrificed the most—my wife, Deb. That was her number in school, when she played softball,” he explained. “So with thankful thoughts, I chose 22.”
Duffy will be in Omaha through June 25. The series started on Saturday, June 13.