Wellmont Co-Worker Fulfilling Dream to Umpire in 2017 Little League Baseball World Series

Jan. 31, 2017 | Kingsport

Bryan Horne’s dream is coming true.

Horne was selected to umpire in the 2017 Little League Baseball® World Series, which will take place Aug. 17-27 in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and be televised live on a variety of ESPN channels.

He is one of 16 volunteer umpires chosen from countries such as the United States, Latin America, Canada and Australia. Horne, who works full time in Wellmont Health System’s information services department, says it’s an honor to umpire in the international tournament.

Horne’s passion to become involved began 15 years ago when his son started playing Little League.

“I began helping with the team, and it grew to my becoming an umpire,” he said. “I played baseball growing up and later participated in recreational/industrial league softball. Now, being an umpire is a great way to stay in the game.”

Horne says all the hard work involved as a volunteer umpire is worthwhile. His motivation comes from his love of the game.

“An umpire has a very difficult job; no matter which way the play is called, one of the teams will not be happy. Our role is to make sure the game is played in a fair, impartial manner and that each team has an equal opportunity to win,” he said. “You don’t want to be noticed, just be firm, fair and friendly.”

To reach the World Series takes a lot of drive and hard work. The lengthy, stringent selection process includes umpiring local Little League games, state tournaments and a regional tournament where umpires are evaluated in hopes of earning a World Series recommendation.

“Being selected for a Little League® World Series is what any Little League volunteer umpire aspires to do, but you only get to do it once in each age division,” Horne said, “I’ve waited several years after getting recommended for this honor.”

A recent rules change allowed umpires to be eligible for a World Series at each level, but they have to repeat the selection process. Other divisions include Intermediate League (11-13 year olds), Junior League (13-14 year olds), and Senior League (13-16 year olds).

For anyone to umpire one of the Little League® World Series tournaments is a once-in-a-lifetime chance, Horne said.

In 2010, he was awarded the opportunity to umpire the Big League® World Series for 15-18 year olds. Horne called first base in the championship game, which ended with San Juan, Puerto Rico, narrowly defeating Thousand Oaks, California, in a 3-2 final.

“I always want to do the best job I can,” he said. “It was a great game with several really close plays. When I watched the replay later, I kept hearing the announcers comment over and over, ‘That was a great call at first base.’ I appreciate them saying that.”

Horne is also the umpire-in-chief for the 2017 Senior League® World Series for 13 to 16 year olds. In this role, he coordinates all of the volunteer umpires awarded this honor.

Recently, Horne accepted an invitation to be a member of the Little League® Southeast Region volunteer umpire staff, headquartered in Warner Robins, Georgia. Horne will assist with training umpires who are interested in refining their skills so they can hopefully reach their goal to become a Little League® World Series umpire.

In his day job, Horne has been a clinical applications analyst II for nearly 19 years.

“I really like what I do for Wellmont,” he said. “It’s a new challenge every day, and there’s never a dull moment.

“I was born and raised in this area – there’s no place like home.”

At Wellmont, Horne manages projects and supports software applications for direct patient care, including those involving treatment, voice recognition, medical equipment and the medical record.

But when he clocks out, he is ready to call balls and strikes. Horne loves baseball and is convinced it is the greatest game.

“There’s something about the flow of baseball and the poetry of it,” he said. “You walk out there on the green grass and there’s just this leisurely pace, but when there’s action, there’s a lot of it. And I love it!”