FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield’s Brian Marks has been an umpire for 38 years in various leagues. This summer, he earned the right to work on the biggest stage of his career.
Marks has been selected to work at the Little League Softball World Series next month in Portland, Ore. Marks umpired at the Eastern Regional last year and has called games for college and high school teams along with the Brakettes, a summer team based in Stratford that has won multiple national championships. Nothing, however, ranks quite as high as reaching the World Series. It it is the highest honor Little League can bestow on an umpire.
“I think for every umpire, you’re trying to reach the pinnacle of your avocation,’’ Marks said. “I always strive to get better. It’s nice to have the recognition from your peers.”
Marks’ career began in Searingtown, N.Y., and he has worked all over the United States. He was also a fast-pitch softball player, and believes the experience made him a better umpire. Since retiring as a player and coach, he has focused on being an umpire.
“My passion is softball, baseball and umpiring,’’ Marks said. “I’m an umpire, but I’m an umpire with coaching tendencies as I mentor other umpires, provide insight to coaches and teach players about the game. At heart, I’m an educator who combines my love as an educator and mentor with umpiring two sports I love.”
Marks has a law degree and a doctorate in economics, is a professor at Sacred Heart University and works in software and information security. His passion, however, is softball.
“I enjoy everything about it,’’ Marks said. “I like the quality and speed of the play, the skill of the players and their cheering, the coaching, and the umpire field mechanics. I admire it all, including the rules and the interpretations. It’s like an elegant ballet. I don’t look for a particular result of a play. I look at all the elements together: I see it; I snap it; I call it.”
Marks enjoys all age groups, but has a special passion for Little League. “Little League is where it all starts,’’ Marks said. “It’s a chance to give back to where it all started. I get numerous requests to work games, but cannot always do so. Little League is near and dear to my heart. When Little League calls, especially for softball, I answer.”
Marks has the support of his wife of nearly 25 years, Lynne, and his children, Maddie, a recent University of Connecticut graduate and Aaron, who played baseball at Fairfield Warde and graduated in June. He has umpired with both Maddie and Aaron. Ironically, Marks could see a team from Fairfield in the World Series. The Fairfield Little League Girls Softball team is playing in the East Regional this week in Bristol. The winner of the tournament advances to the World Series.
“I always strive for perfection,’’ Marks said. “From my perspective and in my heart, I call a perfect game. Am I perfect? No. But as an umpire I am unbiased; you have to be in the right place at the right time as the play develops to have a chance of getting it right. Having played the game has helped me do that.”