APR 02

HONC Retires After 57 Years of Baseball Umpiring

The local Tri‑County Chapter of the Texas Association of Sports Officials (TASO) saw one of it’s finest umpires put away his clicker recently as Yoakum native Leon Honc retired from the profession after 57 years of calling balls and strikes. “It’s been a fun ride, no doubt,” said Honc, who began umpiring in 1957. “I played the game and just loved it so much. I’ve seen a lot through the years.

Honc, who was recognized on Saturday night (March 22) at the Yoakum High School Baseball Field prior to the Yaokum vs Cuero varsity game, is a proud 1957 graduate of Yoakum St. Joseph High School where he was an outstanding pitcher.
In 1958, a lot of young men’s hearts in the area were broken as Arlene Ward, a beautiful young lady from Hochheim, said “I Do”.
“By the way, Arlene knows more about baseball than most men in the area,” Leon noted.
While working for Zaruba Chevrolet and Circle Y along with being an Army Reservist, he and his wife reared four children — Daryl, Sandy, Brenda and DeWayne. And since, their children have given them six grandchildren and two great grandchildren. All this while coaching and umpiring Little League, and in his unique wording, “Baby Ruth” baseball along with basketball, football and softball.
Mr. Honc has worked with some of the greats in the area, most notably, Joe Sutton, Ralph Herder, Early Terro, Gigg Ausek, Robert Zaruba, and Charlie Fikac, just to name a few. And some of the newer guys from the local TASO chapter like E.L. Moore, Jaime Bazan, Steve Simons, Rick Hatfield and numerous others.
“I remember calling with Leon when I first joined the chapter and we had some great conversations on our road trips to games,” said local umpire Mike McCracken. “But the funniest thing I remember about Leon happened while we were calling a game in Bay City. Between innings, I asked him how he could let thise fans behind home plate get on him and he replied, “I don’t hear a thing”. I busted out laughing right there on the field and still laugh when I think about it.”
Honc has called balls and strikes for many former Bulldog greats like Ryan Wagner, RandyBoone, Travis Starling and many more and he says he has some fond memories of those games.
“Our chapter thanks Leon for his dedication to the game for so many years and we wish him the best going forward,” Tri‑County TASWO Secretary Rick Hatfield said.
Pictured from left to right are: Rick Hatfield (Tri‑County TASO Secretary), Leon Honc, Arlene Honc and Bobby Nicholson (Yoakum Head Baseball Coach). Hatfield presented Honc with a plaque recognizing his dedication to umpiring the game of baseball for 57 years.
Article submitted by Mecheal S. McCracken. Photo by Tommy Linn, Jr.