Mike Petterson spends his days attending to the carpet and flooring needs of residents in and around Carson City.
For the next eight days, the city of Easley, S.C., will roll out the red carpet for Petterson, who is working the Big League World Series which begins Wednesday.
This will be the first World Series assignment for the 59-year-old Petterson, who has been umpiring youth baseball for 29 years.
He has smiling ever since he found out in late January he’d been selected to work the tournament featuring 16-18 year-olds.
Petterson is the second District I umpire to receive a World Series assignment. Gene Love, former umpire-in-chief for District I, worked the Little League World Series in 1999.
It will be Petterson’s first experience working with foreign umpires and players.
“I cried when I found out,” Petterson said. “It’s something you work for all these years. I knew through Matt (Teixeira, umpire in chief) and Tim (Terry, District I administrator) that they had put my paperwork in. It’s amazing that I got Big League, because we just started Big League and Junior League a year ago.
“I can’t wait to get going. It will be interesting to see how the language thing is going to go. There is one umpire from Caracus and another from West Germany. The umpire from West Germany is in the military.”
The process started with Teixeira nominating Petterson to Terry, who wrote a letter of recommendation to Little League officials in California. From there, it went to Williamsport, Pa., and then to Little League International.
“It’s nice to see Mike get this,” Terry said. “This is the ultimate reward for his years of volunteerism. Mike is the epitome of what a Little League volunteer should be. He set the standard for it. He’s always willing to go the extra mile. He is always pretty calm. It takes a lot to get under his skin.
“The administration in place before I got here (in office) didn’t recommend anybody. Once I started traveling around, I saw that our guys were just as good as other guys (from other areas).”
Little League post-season umpires don’t get paid. During the regular season, leagues can pay umpires if they choose. Petterson doesn’t take any money for Little League games he does during the season. District and league officials donated money for Petterson and his wife, Mary, to make the trip to South Carolina.
Petterson credits many local residents for his success in umpiring, including John Biale, Love, Bruce Jackson and Harry Birchfield. He has served as Carson City Little League’s umpire in chief three different times.
“John (Biale) got me started,” Petterson said. “I was 19, and I was at the point where I wanted to stay in baseball. He asked me to come help him umpire. He said he’d show me the ropes. I helped out for four years and then got out of it for a while. I taught school for a year in Helena (Montana) in 1977 and then came back to the area to work for my father. We had four stores (around the area), and when the big box stores came in, we moved everything back to Carson.”
And, he’s been here ever since.
Mention Mike Petterson’s name to anybody associated with baseball, and the term “great guy” is always mentioned. You won’t find a more likeable guy in the city. You will never hear a harsh word spoken about Petterson, and that’s amazing in this day and age.
You know when Petterson is working a game behind the plate. He starts the game by having the catcher and first batter of the inning shake hands.
“I cover that in pre-game (meeting) at home plate,” Petterson said. “I will sometimes bring the catchers up and tell them when we’re going to do it . A lot of guys (umpires) don’t like to do it. To me, it’s just about sportsmanship.”
Petterson also said that umpiring is a form of escape for him.
“When I’m out there umpiring, everything else goes away. I’m able to focus on the game and the players themselves.”
Petterson, who works high school baseball, is undergoing hernia surgery shortly after his World Series assignment.
He will be 60 when next season rolls around, but right now has no plans to retire.
“The body will tell me when I’m done,” said Petterson , who said he would continue to be a youth baseball umpire even after his high school days are done.
Petterson is still holding out hopes of landing a Little League World Series assignment.
“That’s the crowning glory,” Petterson said. “John Biale talked that up many years ago along with Gene Love. I’d love to make it there. I feel proud to go to the Big League World Series and represent our district. It’s an honor. Williamsport has always been my dream.”
Here’s hoping it comes through.