Only half a dozen women have umpired the Little League World Series — this Navy vet is one of them

Elizabeth Howe
August 19, 2019 - 1:37 pm

Little League World Series

Only 16 umpires are selected each year for the Little League World Series, and — in its 80-year history — only half a dozen of those umpires have been women. Navy veteran Kelly Elliott Dine of Hudson, Ohio is one of them.

“I know through the years that Little League has never sent out a rejection letter,” Dine said in a Little League World Series release about receiving the letter which informed her she had been selected. “It just looked like a rejection letter you would get from a college. It finally sunk in that it said, ‘congratulations,’ and I just hollered.”

Now, six days into the tournament, Dine says it's hard to put the experience into words. 

"Just incredibly awesome — and I don't use that word lightly. It's hard to put into words," Dine said.

Dine has been a Little League umpire for ten years, but she credits her military experience for helping her develop her umpiring skills. 

Little League World Series

"It's funny how many military veterans are officials. I think the two kind of go hand in hand," Dine said. "The things we live with in the military: the routine, the rules, the 'how it is' — you know this is 'how it is' — that's really carried over to a lot of the different tasks of my life," Dine said.

In addition to umpiring, the former lieutenant commander is also a registered nurse and high school biomedical science teacher.

"I love it. I love getting my nose into a rule book and reading the rules and understanding them and trying to add some common sense behind them — why is this rule in place, why was it put in place, and then thinking about situations where you would apply those rules. And then you encounter those situations on the field," Dine said.

"I think the military also has helped me to be able to react faster to stay level-headed and calm," Dine added. "There are some games that don't go so well, but even if a game is going extremely well, baseball is full of unpredictability."

And — from her Navy career to her umpiring career — Dine is no stranger to working in male-dominated environments. Yet, she's never felt like she was treated any differently.  

"In a lot of respects, it really wasn't much different from the military," Dine said. "The nice thing about the military is that I don't feel like we were really treated any differently. We were held to the same standards and the person who met the standards got the job. And I don't feel like officiating is really much different. I don't want to be held to other standards. I'm not a female umpire, I'm an umpire."

The Little League World Series extends from Aug. 15 to 25, and Dine will umpire two games a day. 

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