The Best Umpire
It’s day 2 of 2019 Tournament of Champions and the field at the New England Baseball Complex is clearing as teams head to the pavilion for awards.
But not all athletes are heading directly to receive their medal. Many are taking a detour to high five and thank umpire Troy Johnson.
“You’re the best umpire,” one athlete shouts as they walked away.
Another athlete even goes up to Johnson asking for his autograph.
No, he isn’t a former pro-baseball player, just a guy who loves to see the athletes succeed. Despite the praise showered on him by athletes, he is quick to bring the focus back to their accomplishments.
“It’s all about helping them do their best,” he said. As an athlete walks by and thanks him again he shouts, “Great game today. Love you, love you, love you!”
Throughout the game he will pause to help a batter with their position, or wait patiently while an athlete finds their spot in the outfield. If the crowd is being too quiet he’ll tell them to cheer, so the teams know they have people rooting them on.
What makes this tournament different from the others?
“The Olympians, no doubt man. They’re all special to me. They bring me here.” he says. “They rock.”
Johnson first volunteered with Special Olympics about six years when the August tournament was still held in Amherst.
“I heard so many good things about [volunteering]. Other guys said it’s a blast, so I gotta go find out for myself,” he said.
He met teams the first day and by the end of the weekend everyone knew his name and he knew many of theirs. He comes back every year to volunteer and loves seeing some of the same athletes.