Vin Sarullo Jr. living the dream—umpiring LL World Series
Vin Sarullo Jr. will be packing his bags a little earlier this year — the Milford resident and long-time Little League umpire will make his 13th consecutive trip to Williamsport, Pa., in the middle of August.
This time, rather than leaving on the eve on the National and International championship games, Sarullo will depart from his hometown on Aug. 13, two days before one of the country’s more endearing sporting events is set to begin.
This one will be special for Sarullo, who was chosen to be part of one of the umpiring teams to work the 67th edition of the classic.
“A letter arrived in January with a Williamsport date-mark on it,” Sarullo said. “I get other mail from Williamsport, so it’s not unusual for me to receive mail from there. However, once I opened it and found out that I’d been selected, that’s when it really set in.
“It’s very exciting because you’re talking about being involved with the best teams not only in this country, but the world. The skill level of these kids is unmatched.”
It will be Sarullo’s second assignment on the national level. He worked games in the Girls’ Senior Little League Softball World Series in 2006 when they were played in Delaware.
He’s also done games on the regional level, which is one step below making it to a World Series crew.
“It’s a constant process,” Sarullo said about working within the Little League system. “Umpires start by doing local games. You move from there to the district level, then on to the sectionals and then the regionals. Along the way, you’re always being observed and evaluated.”
It’s the same once you reach Williamsport. All umpires usually work two or three games per day during pool play. Umpires are then picked from among that group to work the elimination-round games.
Then two 6-umpire teams are used for the national and international games, before the last six are chosen to do Sunday’s World Series finale.
“It would be the ultimate thrill to make it all the way to that final game,” Sarullo said. “But you have to put that idea on the top shelf. Right now, my focus is on that first day.”
Sarullo’s relationship with Little League baseball goes back to 1979, when his oldest son, V.J. (current president of the Milford National League and the Athletic Director at Wallingford’s Sheehan High School) began playing. He has a younger son, Nick, who also played in Milford.
“I grew up around baseball,” Sarullo said. “I’m one of those rare baseball fans who roots for both the Yankees and the Mets. I’m the only one in my household like that.”
Sarullo moved to Connecticut from the Middle Village section of Queens in 1974.
“We had baseball fields right down the street from where I lived,” he said. “We’d play almost from dawn to dusk.”
Then he’d come home and discuss the game with his father. Sarullo has always had an interest in how the game was played.
“I’ve loved the rules and how they’re interpreted,” said Sarullo, a warehouse manager with Office Max. “Once you start to umpire, you begin to develop different perspective of those rules. Just knowing them is not enough. That’s where the interpretation comes in.”
Sarullo admits that it becomes a never-ending learning process.
“When and if you say that you’ve seen everything, along comes a play that makes you get together with your fellow umpires and say, ‘Boy, that’s a head scratcher.’”
The true art of it, from Sarullo’s point of view, is being able to get in the right position to make the call.
“There’s a fine line there,” he said. “And you know that you’re never going to make the right call all the time. Umpires are quite capable of making mistakes. They’re never perfect.”
Sarullo is hoping this time, when he reaches the big stage, that he’s in the right spot to make the right call.