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Marty Ort has been involved in baseball his whole life. He played T-ball at age 5 in the Scranton Central City Little League in Pennsylvania and played baseball until age 12.
At 13, he volunteered to operate the pitching machine for younger players. Two years later, at age 15, he volunteered to be league secretary. He announced games. He kept score.
In 2001, at age 16, he learned that the “regular umpire was serving two weeks in the Reserves,” so he volunteered to ump. He went from the press box to the field. In 2004, he became umpire in chief.Future wife Elaine – they weren’t even dating yet – took over scorekeeping and announcing.
“It was trial by fire,” Ort said.
He’s been an umpire ever since. Every summer – “May to September” – Ort volunteers to call balls and strikes while Elaine – they just celebrated their ninth wedding anniversary – does the announcing and scorekeeping.
Now 32, Ort also serves as assistant district administrator, information officer, in Pennsylvania Little League District 17 in Lackawanna County, Penn., “running 18 brackets and two websites” – all on a volunteer basis.
The Orts live in Old Forge, a small borough in Northeast Pennsylvania, which is also home to the school district in which they teach. For 10 years, Marty has taught elementary school music teacher; Elaine is the band director at Western Wayne High School.
“I started playing piano when I was 4 years old,” he said. “My parents signed me up for lessons to save the pots and pans and keep me from tormenting the dogs. They thought ‘maybe this will help.’ I’ve been going at it ever since.”
He also does “a lot of freelance keyboard work,” performing and conducting at a number of high school musicals and school concerts every year. He has been honored with “Excellence in School Theater Awards” and recently went on a 16-day concert tour of England and Wales with the Voices of the Valley at Valley View High School in Archbald, Penn.
In 2013, Ort was assigned to call balls and strikes at the Little League’s senior regional tournament in Worchester, Massachusetts.
“We were invited back,” he said. “Elaine has announced every year.”
This year, Ort was called to umpire the Junior League Baseball World Series in Taylor. Elaine came, too. He worked a variety of positions on the field in games involving international and American teams. He even worked the televised world championship game on Sunday.
The pin he handed out to people he met during his visit featured a piano.
On Sunday night, Ort became the recipient of the Chuck McAllister Umpire Award, named in honor of the first director of JLWS umpires who died suddenly in the winter of 1999. The award is given to one member of the crew “who best exemplifies the qualities and characteristics of Chuck.”
George Glick, the current director of umpires, said Ort was most worthy.
“It goes to one who reflects the true Little League spirit – the spirit Charlie had,” Glick said. Ort “makes the difference in the life of a child,” both while volunteering as an umpire on the baseball diamond and serving as a teacher in the classroom.
After quietly accepting the award before a standing ovation from other umpires and a boisterous crowd in the hospitality suite of the host hotel, the Holiday Inn in Southgate, Ort summed up why he enjoys what he does.
“I’ve literally been involved in the same league – whether playing or volunteering – since 1990,” he said. I enjoy working with the kids and all of the people I’ve met over the years. There are a lot of good coaches and managers and other umpires I’ve met all over the place.”