OTTAWA, ON – Long time baseball umpire with Baseball Canada and Baseball Ontario, Don Gilbert is one of seven who will be enshrined in the Windsor/Essex Sports Hall of Fame.
The Windsor native has been an umpire in the Baseball Canada’s national program since 1980 and is now the Umpire Supervisor with the baseball federation.
“I’m extremely honoured,” says Gilbert. “That’s not supposed to happen to umpires,” he added jokingly.
The 59-year-old has been an umpire at the national level for all age groups, including the Baseball Canada Cup and the Canada Games.
He’s also garnered some international experience with appearances at the World Junior’s, World Cup, World University Games, Pan-Am Games and his personal favourite, the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
“The Olympics gave me a greater appreciation for professional umpires. The type of focus and concentration I had to do day in and day out for that tournament, it gave me a new found respect for professional umpires.”
Gilbert has been named Umpire of the Year by Baseball Canada, as well as provincially and internationally, but he always takes the time to acknowledge that he was not alone on his journey throughout his career.
“Something like this it always comes back to, not necessarily what I’ve done or where I’ve been, but who helped me to get there. There are a lot of fond memories, a lot of friends in different places around the world. That’s what it does for me.”
But Gilbert is far from done with the umpiring business. Although his days as an umpire are basically over, he continues on as a supervisor. Some upcoming adventures include being assistant-supervisor of umpires at the World Junior Baseball Championship in Edmonton this summer, as well as being the Head-Supervisor for the Women’s Baseball World Cup in August in Japan.
His selection in the Winsdor/Essex Sports Hall of Fame is certainly deserved; however Gilbert remains modest toward his honour.
“I can be here all day telling you stories about what I did, where I’ve been and all the people who’ve helped me along the way, but Baseball Ontario and Baseball Canada where the people who catapulted my career.”
The Hall of Fame ceremony will take place on November 8th, 2008 at the Caboto Club in Winsdor.