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The Don of Baseball

Don Trawick, Mike Powers, and Kenne Brown

I have played and/or coached the game of baseball in Central Florida for 46 years. In those 46 years, many things have changed with the exception of one; the name Mr. Don Trawick.

It is hard to recall not only baseball, but also football without Mr. Trawick’s name being mentioned. He was either on the field as an umpire or a referee or he was the person responsible for assigning the umpire or referee for a particular game.

He’s a good man whose passion for sports, kids, coaches, and officials make him one of the primary difference makers in Central Florida amateur sports.

Friday evening, I had the honor of joining Mike Powers, another Central Florida difference maker, in speaking to the Orange Baseball Association. The OBA has been the main baseball umpire association in Central Florida for as long as I can remember. Mike and I were invited to speak to these men and give them the perspective from a coach and Athletic Director’s point of view to help them gain an understanding of a person whom they will most likely only get to know during a disagreement.

But in telling our stories, it was apparent the lessons we wished to reflect were founded on two things: they were mirrored for us by none other than Mr. Don Trawick and, the organization he ran for all those years was, and still is, the best umpire organization in the state of Florida.

No disrespect meant towards the other umpire organizations in the state; however, no matter what area of the state we traveled to play the game of baseball, we were always happy to return home to our umpires. OBA officials repeatedly handle themselves with professionalism and make decisions based upon what is best for the game, not always what is in the best interest of those silly FHSAA mandated rules, ie: stepping out of the box equals a strike; wearing a necklace is an automatic ejection.

The above descriptions were trademark managerial installments from Mr. Trawick that every OBA umpire understood. They would have to take 10 times the abuse one should receive from a coach because the conversion rate (for the most part) in either one of their local professions was small. Unfortunately, the balance of that knowledge fell upon the officials and it would be up to them to emulate the understanding that this was the family they were stuck with and they had to find a way to get along.

Additionally, and here’s the big reveal for those always crying foul that the game is fixed … you are correct!

Mr. Trawick was absolutely biased and he made sure every umpire in his organization was biased!

In biased, I mean he made sure that a silly, newly infused rule didn’t dictate the game’s outcome. It would be extremely rare for an OBA umpire to eject a coach or player or make a call based upon a rule that didn’t have anything to do with the game of baseball. He drilled fairness, friendliness, servitude, and compassion within the OBA and that’s the legacy I witnessed Adam Bates and Scooter Morrison continue to instill last Friday.

Mr. Trawick’s work with the OBA is very limited these days but he was in attendance Friday night and I was proud to stand before this organization and speak on the impact he had on my life and the lives of many, many others. I certainly know that change is inevitable but I waited too long to tell Mike Ferrell, Alan Bukey, Wes Rinker, Jack Pantelias, and Mike Goodspeed, how much I appreciated the impact they had on my life.

To Mr. Trawick, thank you for the faith you always put in me, the support you have always given me, and the life lessons you instilled in me. Your investment will never go unappreciated.

And thank you for making the games I love so much better.

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