HAMMOND | "You've got to love the game," Jerry Mulberry says.
If he hadn't, he wouldn't be here.
Neither would Ron Ormes, Ed Strbjak, Garry Boyer, Jim Newburn and especially Don Singleton.
A Williamstown, Mass., resident, Singleton has been an umpire for 24 years. The Cal Ripken Major/60 World Series is going on through Friday at the Hammond Optimist Youth Sports Complex.
This is Singleton's sixth Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth World Series.
That didn't come by accident.
"You move up through the district, state and regional like the players do," Singleton said. "But really, not quite like that ... you don't move up through the ranks during a single season."
Each season, umpires get reviewed at the level they worked that season.
"So if you get a good review at a state tournament, it will help your chances when you apply for a regional ... and then after that, a World Series."
Singleton remembers his first Cal Ripken World Series.
"It was in Quincy, Mass.," said Singleton, who was one of the local umpires working that tournament.
The three local umpires working this World Series are Ormes, of Hammond, Strbjak, of Munster, and Gary Boyer, of Schererville.
Newburn is from Kentucky. Mulberry is from Kokomo.
The six-man crew are working the entire series, which will consist of 25 games.
"When two games are going at once, there will be three for each," Mulberry said. "If one is going at a time, we'll have four out there."
Singleton said his district, like most every district in the country, usually has a difficult time filling umpires during the regular season.
"But it usually rights itself during tournament time," he said. "The field is usually weeded out by then."