orking the Little League World Series (LLWS) is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for umpires. But in 2021, with the COVID-19 pandemic still affecting the country, things were a little different this year in Williamsport, Pa. Twelve umpires from throughout the United States had an opportunity to return for a second time at Lamade and Volunteer stadiums.
One of those umpires was Darrin Besescheck. The Shelton, Conn., umpire, who has served 25 years as a Little League umpire, received a call from Tom Rawlings, Little League’s director of umpire development.
“I was on my way to a game and I thought someone was playing a joke on me,” Besescheck said. “I never thought I’d get to go again. Of all the guys who have worked the past 10-15 years, and I was one of the 12 to get the call to go back. I don’t know how we got it, but I’m grateful that we did.”
Besescheck first had the opportunity to work the LLWS in 2012. And this year, Besescheck came up with a plan to give back more than just his time as a volunteer umpire. He created a K’s for Kids campaign to raise both money and awareness for UMPS CARE Charities, the official charity of MLB umpires. The goal was to have donors pledge money for every strikeout that occurred during the games Besescheck worked at the LLWS. People could also give a one-time donation as well.
“I was thinking to myself, there is not much of a bigger stage than the LLWS in my opinion,” Besescheck said. “It was a great opportunity to give back to them.”
Besescheck’s high school association, the Fairfield County Chapter of Approved Umpires, has given back to the community each year during its annual fall banquet. That group holds a raffle each year to raise money for charity. The past few years, the group had chosen UMPS CARE as its charity. The progression to the K’s for Kids campaign was a natural fit.
“When I first started, I was thinking the goal would be $1,500,” he said. “My daughter said, ‘Dad, you know a lot of people, make the goal higher. I think it will be successful.’”
That goal initially ended up at $6,500 and the campaign ended up crossing the $10,000 threshold after the tournament. Those donations came from all over the country and included several MLB umpires.
“I get goosebumps and tears in my eyes just hearing it,” Besescheck said. “It really blew me away that these guys are a part of this. They didn’t have to take the time or money out of their pocket, and to do it is extra special.”
The gesture touched UMPS CARE executive director Jennifer Skolochenko-Platt as well.
“We have officials from the Little Leagues to the Major Leagues all working together to help make a positive impact in the community,” she said. “We could not do this alone and are incredibly grateful for people like Darrin. The world is a better place because of people like him.”
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