Ricky Crumpler's Hall of Fame induction delayed
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 27, 2008 1:46 PM
Ricky Crumpler's induction into the N.C. American Legion Hall of Fame is on hold for one year due to a parliamentary procedural error.
Until this year, active umpires couldn't be considered for enshrinement into the Hall. The bylaws adopted in 1967, the first year a Hall of Fame class was inducted, clearly stated that only umpires who had been retired five or more years could be considered for election to the Hall.
An amendment was clearly needed.
"The (Hall of Fame) committee went into executive session and this was one of the biggest issues that we needed to address," said Ron Taylor, former state Legion chairman and athletic officer of New Bern Post 24. "It was unanimous that we change the bylaws because of this terrible disparity to omit (active) umpires."
Crumpler's nomination appeared to be a precedent-setting move for active umpires. But the nine-member committee learned late Monday evening through an email that its election of Crumpler to the Hall hit an embarrassing snag.
The state chairman of the N.C. American Legion Hall of Fame committee failed to submit the new resolution as part of his committee report. The new resolution intended to void the old decision that umpires can't be elected for induction until after five years of retirement.
The Judge Advocate General overturned the state chairman's submission in court, stating it violated the rules and regulations pursuant to the constitution and bylaws of the N.C. American Legion.
"We voted unanimously to change that (1967) rule to any umpire who had 10 years of experience could be recommended for election in the Hall of Fame," said Clayton Sutton, vice chairman of the N.C. American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame. "That resolution would have been passed had it been attached to the minutes that were recorded during that meeting.
"Ricky will be inducted next year and that's what counts."
Crumpler's official installation into the Hall will take place in the winter of 2010. He will receive his ring and plaque at that time.
Despite the error, Crumpler remains mystified why he was chosen to be honored.
"I was taking my car to have a brake job done when the phone rang and I answered it," recalled Crumpler.
"Ricky, this is Ron Taylor," said the caller.
"Hey Ron, how are you doing?" replied Crumpler.
"I've got some news for you. You've been elected to the North Carolina American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame," said Taylor.
Crumpler thought Taylor was joking.
"You're lying to me," said Crumpler.
Crumpler handed the phone to his wife, Jenny.
"You tell my wife that you're lying to me," said Crumpler.
But Taylor repeated verbatim to his wife what he told Crumpler.
"I reckon, after that, I've got to believe it," said Crumpler as he shrugged his shoulders. "My question to you or anybody else is 'why me?' I've been affiliated with a lot of good ... excellent umpires. Why they would pick me instead of someone of the other guys I've worked with, I have no idea.
"Maybe it tells me that somebody likes me and maybe I've done something right somewhere."
Crumpler is the sixth Wayne Countian inducted to the Hall of Fame. George Whitfield was the first recipient in 1979. Since then, four more have had the honor bestowed upon them -- Ken Short (1985), Doyle Whitfield (1991), Ken Snell (1998), Dee Glover (2000) and Wayne County Post 11 historian Keith Waters (2007).
Short and Snell diligently worked to keep Post 11 among the elite Legion programs in North Carolina. Glover and Doyle Whitfield served as coaches for a number of seasons.
"We have some of the best baseball minds in eastern North Carolina that there are anywhere in the sport," said Crumpler.
Now, he's included in that group.
An umpire since 1974, Crumpler travels six -- sometimes seven days -- a week calling games on the high school, college and American Legion level. From February to August, he's usually home less than 48 hours during that time.
It's a tireless job that often can be thankless, to say the least.
"Ricky is part of a small group of umpires in eastern North Carolina who displays distinct knowledge of the rules ... inside and out," said Taylor. "His integrity and execution of duties as an umpire are outstanding, and he has great dedication to the game.
"When he walks onto a field, there is comfort and if a call is made, it's for a reason. He's not there to showboat, but is there for the kids."
Crumpler's professional attitude fueled Taylor's desire to get him into the Hall.
"Ricky has earned the respect and admiration of coaches, players, peers, athletic officers and spectators across the state and nation," said Taylor.
A humble and modest Crumpler feels otherwise.
When he puts on a uniform, he understands his job is to manage and umpire a game to the best of his ability.
"You have to let people talk ... listen to what they say," said Crumpler. "The hardest part for me is wanting to get everything right and there is no way because I'm not a computer. I'm going to make mistakes. My wife will tell you I've sat home at night and browbeat myself to death because I know I've messed up.
"But you go out the next day, try not to make the same mistake and go on."
Crumpler takes that self analysis and uses it to train younger umpires. He's worked as a training official at numerous clinics and received training of his own at an Olympic umpire camp hosted by Major League Baseball in 2007.
"We tell our younger umpires to go out, be professional and do what is needed to be accepted," said Crumpler. "That's the biggest part ... being accepted. You have to let the coaches complain because that's their job. From my point of view, keeping a coach in the game from a tough situation shows what kind of umpire you are.
"I guess getting this award shows that someone has accepted me somewhere because I've done something right. I never dreamt anything like this would happen to me."
The dream will become reality in 2010.
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