Umpire 'ecstatic' at second shot at Junior League World Series

A couple Decembers ago, Sean Guilday got word that all of his hard work improving his umpiring skills had paid off: He was assigned to call balls and strikes at the 2008 Junior League World Series in Taylor.

Seven months later, Guilday was working behind the plate during a game near his Pennsylvania neighborhood in the Poconos when he got tangled up with a catcher’s mask on the ground. Guiday fell hard sideways and broke his right wrist – the one he uses to signal strikes and outs. By Thursday of that week, he had a plate and two screws on his aching scarred wrist.

With the World Series just three weeks away, Guilday faced at least six weeks of recuperating. His shot at working the World Series had seemingly passed him by.

“I was ecstatic when I found out I would be umpiring the World Series in Taylor,” Guilday said. “After I broke my wrist, the World Series was my next thought. I was disappointed. By rights, I could have missed my chance.”

Yet, he continued working hard. In fact, Guilday serves as umpire-in-chief in District 29  in Pennsylvania. He and his wife Jeanne are both assistant district administrators as well.

Last January, Guilday received a second invitation to call this year’s World Series. He accepted promptly and has been volunteering along with 15 other umpires at Taylor’s Heritage Park.

Guilday, a furniture repair technician, has come a long way in the 17 years since he started umpiring. At the time, he was coaching a team in a league that had difficulty finding umpires.

“I became an ump because I was a coach who couldn’t find umps,” he said. “I told our manager that I would just ump the next year.”

Prior to that decision, he admitted, he didn’t know how to umpire. Since then, he has taken many classes and attended many clinics to hone his skills.

An umpire can’t just get assigned to a World Series without calling balls and strikes at district, state and regional tournaments. Guilday was getting noticed and he reached the requirements one tournament at a time.

In 2007, he worked the Junior League Eastern Regional tournament in Freehold Township, New Jersey. Earlier this month, he umpired the same tournament as a replacement for an ump that couldn’t make it.

World Series Umpire-in-Chief George Glick said Guilday had the right attitude about the World Series opportunity.

“This is a great example of an umpire’s perseverance, where he has not been discouraged by personal rejection of not umpiring in 2008, but continuing in 2009 and re-earning his position in the World Series,” Glick said.

This past week, during pin trading in Taylor, Guilday had some explaining to do. Those that received his pins noticed that the cartoon umpire character shown on the device had stitches on his wrist.

-- Dave Gorgon