Jackson’s Wilson among OHSAA Officials’ HOF Inductees


OHSAA Officials’ HOF

Keith Wilson has already surpassed his silver anniversary as
a baseball and softball umpire. Now, at age 50, he’s reached the gold standard for officials
in the state of Ohio. That’s because Wilson, of Jackson, will be formally inducted
into the Ohio High School Athletic Association Officials’ Hall of Fame. 


Keith Wilson has already surpassed his silver anniversary as
a baseball and softball umpire.

Now, at age 50, he’s reached the gold standard for officials
in the state of Ohio.

That’s because Wilson, of Jackson, will be formally inducted
into the Ohio High School Athletic Association Officials’ Hall of Fame.

The induction banquet will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday at the
Marriott Northwest in Dublin.

Wilson, a 1975 graduate of Jackson High School, is a teacher
in the Jackson City School District and serves as the golf coach at Jackson.

However, he has made his mark in five other sports, and all
through the eyes as an official.

He said his Hall of Fame induction, at a relatively young
age, will be “the pinnacle” of his longtime officiating career.

“I’m just elated,” said Wilson. “Even though I’ve umpired
and officiated a lot, I still don’t feel like I’m old, you know. So to be put
in the Hall of Fame at age 50, I’m just thrilled. It’s the top of the line as
far as I’m concerned.”

Wilson has been an umpire of baseball and softball for 26
years, a basketball official for 20 years, a football official for 19 years and
a volleyball official for 17 years.

With five sports encompassing all four seasons, Wilson keeps
busy all throughout the year.

“You have football and volleyball in the fall, basketball in
the winter and baseball and softball in the spring and summer,” he said.

While Wilson will be one of 12 inductees on Saturday, he
becomes the third official from Jackson County in the last four years to be
inducted into the Hall.

Last July, William “Bill” Fyffe of Wellston was honored
while Wilson’s umpiring partner of 19 years — Dick Doty of Jackson — was
inducted three years ago.

Doty and Wilson are also members of the same football crew,
but are best known for their two decades of umpiring baseball together.

“To see Dick go into the Hall of Fame was special, and now
for me to get nominated from the same crew…”

Wilson actually began his career in high school, as an
impromptu umpiring job opened up.

“My first game that I actually umpired was a junior varsity
game while I was in high school,” he recalled. “Back then, we played the
varsity game before the junior varsity game. I played in the varsity game, then
Coach Haller (legendary Jackson baseball coach Dick “Sparky” Haller) came over
and said that an umpire for the JV game had not shown up. He said he’d pay $10
if someone would go out and umpire the JV game. So I did it. I’ve been on the
field ever since.”

After graduating from Jackson, Wilson continued his
education at Ohio State, where he graduated in 1979. He umpired games at Lou
Berliner Park in Columbus before moving to Philadelphia in 1983.

Wilson thought the move to Philadelphia meant an end to
umpiring. Little did he know just how many games he would continue to call.

“I honestly thought umpiring was done. Shoot, I umpired more
games over there than I did around here. They start in February,” he said.

He added that he “learned a lot of baseball” in the “City of
Brotherly Love.”

“Living in Philadelphia, I umpired with former Major League
umpires, and they taught me a bunch,” said Wilson. “I enjoyed it and there are
plenty of stories to be told. I saw my first 90-mile-per-hour fastball over
there. It was a fun time and we found out that umpires are pretty much the same
anywhere you go.”

In 1986, Wilson returned to Southern Ohio. Since then, he’s
added basketball, football and volleyball to his officiating resume.

He has umpired in the Frontier League in the past, and said
he “was privileged enough to do third base in the all-star game in that

Speaking of third base, he was the third-base umpire in a
Division I state tournament game this past spring. In 2005, he was the man
behind home plate for a Division III state tournament tilt.

The 2005 state tournament was held in Dayton, where, in
nearby Xenia, Wilson recalled a regional bout in which the son of former
Cincinnati Reds player Ron Oester was involved.

“The shortstop made two tremendous double plays,” said
Wilson. “I had a chance to look down at the lineup card and it was Ronnie
Oester’s son. I was like ‘Wow! This is amazing.’”

And, while Wilson has witnessed some amazing plays
throughout his career, he said an official must be able to respect the game’s

“I’ve always based my officiating on once you go in between
the lines, you have to respect the people in the game. In return, they will
respect you,” he said. “I’ve always tried my best and tried to hustle. I’m not
saying that we didn’t make mistakes and weren’t in the right spots sometimes,
but I always respected the people that we officiated. I’ve found out that there
are a lot of great people in Southern Ohio and throughout the state.”

To be considered for induction, a nominee must either be an
interscholastic sports official or an administrator involved in officiating

For active officials, a nominee must have at least 25 years
of experience in officiating or officiating administration with a significant
contribution to OHSAA interscholastic officiating.

There is then a nomination and selection process, which
culminates with the voting members of the OHSAA Hall of Fame Committee
selecting from the nominees. A maximum of 12 individuals are inducted each

The Officials Hall of Fame Committee consists of 13 voting
members; a representative official from each district, the six District
Officials Secretaries and the OHSAA administrator responsible for the Officials

John Derrow of Wellston is the Southeast District
Commissioner for the Hall of Fame Committee.

In three of the past four years, an official from Jackson
County has been inducted. Wilson said that fact is no accident.

“Dick (Doty) and I have talked about this a lot. We’ll match
our top officials in the district in all of our sports with anybody else in the
state,” he said. “If you go out there and work at it and hustle…We’ll go to
camps in the wintertime for baseball, we try to bring back what we can to the
other officials.”

And, it’s the camaraderie Wilson has shared with the other
officials which has “helped lead me to the Hall of Fame.”

“We were always great comrades with the guys I was with. No
matter what we did on the field, we backed each other,” he said. “I just can’t
express enough thanks to the guys who helped me and worked with me and taught
me everything I know over the years.”

Among the officials which Wilson has worked with include his
entire football crew, including Doty, Tom McNerlin, Ed Chin, John Foster and
Paul Davis.

In addition, Mike Rouse took Wilson “under his wings for
volleyball” while Chuck Malone and the late Bob Bethel “took me under their
wings in football.”

John Lloyd, Wilson said, “gave me my first set of (baseball)
equipment.” Today, that umpiring gear is quite expensive.

“When I go out there on the field now, I have about $700
worth of stuff on,” he said. “The steel-toe shoes, shin guards, chest
protector, mask, etc.”

But now, Wilson’s worth can be measured in the gold of the
OHSAA Officials Hall of Fame. He is a member of the 19th Hall of Fame class.

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