KELLY DINE COVERS ALL THE BASES
By John Torsiello
The year 2020 was, well, not a great one for many people.
But at least Kelly Elliott Dine had wonderful memories of 2019 to comfort her and fuel her dreams for the future.
“2019 was an incredible year for me,” said the Akron, Ohio, resident, whose star is rising in the umpiring world faster than a 100‑mile‑an‑hour heater. “Not only did I work my first‑ever NCAA Division I baseball game, I worked the Little League Baseball World Series. How blessed I am. Both of those were at the top of my goal list.
“But once you achieve some of your goals, it’s time to write more. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I’ve never believed that there’s a limit or a peak at which you can’t go any further. You can always find a new goal to set, in every facet of life.”
Elliott Dine failed to mention that she became only the second woman to umpire behind the plate in the championship game of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., an honor that Tom Rawlings, director of umpire development for Little League International, said was well deserved.
“When we rate the umpires at the Little League World Series, at the end of the day we take those that we feel were the six best leading up to the championship game and put them on the field for the final. All of us had Kelly number one on the list. She was rock solid in the championship game. There wasn’t anything during six innings that I would have questioned.”
Elliott Dine called her LLWS experience “the honor of a lifetime.” She recalled, “I can still feel the awe of walking out on the Lamade field (Howard J. Lamade Stadium) for my first plate game. Over 24,000 people in attendance. The skill of the players was incredible. The game happens at warp speed at that level … fastballs from just 46 feet away, whackers at first base that seem to happen in thousandths of a second after the crack of the bat.
“I was so excited for the kids. I couldn’t stop grinning. But I kept reminding myself that I was there to do a job, to focus and give it my best. It was over way too soon.”
She thought back to the last out of the game between Curaçao and Louisiana. The Curaçao batter fouled off 10 pitches and then lined a drive at the Louisiana shortstop, who caught the ball for the last out of the contest.