About Us - Bergen County Umpires Association

The Bergen County Umpires Association is an organization of baseball and softball umpires certified to officiate high school contests in New Jersey.

Our purpose is:

  • promote the welfare of the games of baseball and softball on the county level by uniformly interpreting and administering the rules of those games as set forth by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) and the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS).
  • promote and maintain the highest degree of baseball and softball officiating by following a uniform set of mechanics and have available at all times an adequate number of thoroughly trained and capable umpires.
  • preserve the traditions, foster the ideals, advance the interests and improve the quality and prestige of the baseball and softball umpires through a comprehensive program of classroom training and on-the-field experience and develop a spirit of friendship and maintain a high standard of ethics among umpires.

 

 

Deaf umpire has been on the job in NJ for years, but first he had to prove skeptics wrong

Republished from North Jersey Record (NorthJersey.com)


Darren Cooper, North Jersey Record (Varsity Aces)

FAIR LAWN — Jonathan Breuer makes it clear. He’s deaf, and you can call him that.

On the softball and baseball fields in North Jersey, he answers to a different title.

Umpire.

The 57-year-old Fair Lawn resident has been umpiring since 2013, and has been working as a soccer official since before that. He loves being involved in sports, helping his community. It makes him feel young.

He also wants to let people know that being deaf isn’t a hindrance to doing what you enjoy.

“I want to show the world what deaf people can do,” Breuer said.

Bergen Tech softball vs. Waldwick in the Donna Ricker Tournament at Wood-Ridge High School on Saturday, April 13, 2019. (left) Umpire Jon Breuer.
Bergen Tech softball vs. Waldwick in the Donna Ricker Tournament at Wood-Ridge High School on Saturday, April 13, 2019. (left) Umpire Jon Breuer.  (Photo: Michael Karas/NorthJersey.com)

His speech isn't clear, but it became easier to understand Breuer during our conversation. He’s energetic and engaging, but his best avenue of communication is sign language to his wife, Sari. She’s also his biggest fan.

“I am so proud of him,” Sari said. “I work in the deaf community and I see the discrimination that happens and the challenges they face every day. Jon just goes out and does his job and does it really well. It’s pretty amazing.”

The path to becoming an umpire

Breuer grew up in Brooklyn. He was born deaf; the nerves in his inner ear don’t function. Hearing aids would help, but he grew weary of taking care of them and the impact was negligible.

He said that twice when he was young, doctors tried experimental techniques on him, once electroshock and another time acupuncture.

“Nothing worked,” he said with a smile.

That didn’t stop Breuer from being active and graduating from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf/Rochester Institute of Technology with an engineering degree. He later worked on Wall Street and got a second degree at Montclair State.

Through the deaf community, Breuer became friends with Peter Rozynski, a deaf umpire who has worked for more than 20 years and lives in Florida.

When Breuer’s Wall Street job dried up, his first thought was to become an umpire. Sari went to the training classes with him and signed for him, so he could understand.

He was met with skepticism.

“A lot of umpires have different perspectives, one was in shock and said I shouldn’t be an umpire, he was really angry and said he was going to call [the Bergen County Umpires Association],” Breuer said. “I’m like fine, go ahead. We started the game and after he came up to me and he apologized. He said you did a great job.”

How he makes it work

When you think about it, just how much does a baseball and softball umpire have to verbalize? When working behind the plate, Breuer can bark out "strike," and signal the count with his hands. He said he’s very conscious of giving the count every three pitches.

It’s well known inside baseball and softball that on a close play at first base, the umpire is trained to watch the foot hit the bag and listen for the sound of the ball in the glove. How does Breuer do that? He has an answer.

“My visual processing is about .8 times faster than my hearing,” Breuer said. “I am not saying I am 100 percent perfect. I have made mistakes on close calls, but I believe my percentage of making the right call is very high.”

Bergen Tech softball vs. Waldwick in the Donna Ricker Tournament at Wood-Ridge High School on Saturday, April 13, 2019. (left) Umpire Jon Breuer.  (Photo: Michael Karas/NorthJersey.com)

There’s another longstanding joke that coaches want kids from orphanages (no parents to deal with) and every umpire should be deaf (ditto).

Breuer agrees.

“A lot of umpires have told me you are so lucky that you can’t hear,” Breuer said. “I was told the average umpire quits after four years. I have been [officiating] for 13 years and I feel fine. I feel relaxed. You can ignore all that chitter-chatter.”

But what happens when conflict does arise? BCUA President Peter Zubiarre said Breuer carries around post-it notes just in case he has a message to deliver. He said the only accommodation made for Breuer is that he'll often communicate with other umpires through email the night before instead of having a verbal pregame meeting.

Zubiarre said the feedback on Breuer from coaches and other umpires has been positive.

Jonathan Breuer, left, with his wife Sari in their home in Fair Lawn. (Photo: Darren Cooper)

“We’re happy and he’s moving up the ladder,” Zubiarre said. “I don’t want to sound corny, but I look at Jon as almost like someone running the marathon with a disability. He’s admirable for sure.”

Breuer gets a delight from when kids or coaches recognize him and sign "hello" or "thank you." His goal is to umpire a college game in New Jersey.

“I faced oppression and I overcame that, I can’t let people oppress me, I just can’t,” Breuer said. “I know deaf people and I try to encourage them that they can do anything they want to do and I want to show them and the rest of the hearing world that deaf people can do anything.”

2019 Member Registration Dues

2016 Member Registration

All members - please note that all registration fees must be paid/postmarked to the association by Wednesday, May 15, 2019.

MEMBERS SUBMITTING AFTER THAT DATE WILL BE ASSESSED LATE FEES!
 
THERE IS NO GRACE PERIOD!
 
 

2019 BCUA Sportsmanship Awards

Members - registration for the banquet and voting for the Bergen and Passaic County schools to receive the annual BCUA Sportsmanship Awards in both baseball and softball is now open.

Along with these awards, the association also awards a worthy individual umpire the Barney Finn Award (for loyal service to the BCUA) and the Ray Farricker Award (for consistently displaying qualities of Integrity, Pride, Enthusiasm and Hustle) at the banquet.

Even if you're not planning to attend, please take the time to vote for these prestigious awards. If you have been moved by another fellow umpire or some school during the season, this is your time to show your appreciation for them.

To vote, please click here. Remember, you must be signed on with the username and password e-mailed out by John Gojdycz before you can access the form.

Ballots must be completed by the end of the day on Thursday, May 16, 2019.

Seek Knowledge and Ye Shall Find

By Jon Bible
Republished from Referee Magazine


You're a young, aspiring official who is eager to seek knowledge anywhere you can about the rules, mechanics and philosophies applicable in your sport. You’re hoping to move up the ladder or just to get better. But you don’t feel you’re getting what you need from the training program in your group or association. What do you do?

This is not a problem at the major college or pro levels because the training is extensive and goes on year round. Officials spend a great deal of time, in clinics and otherwise, digging into the books and dissecting videos. That individual study complements the training afforded by a national coordinator or league supervisor. If you’re not getting what you need, it’s because you’re not taking full advantage of what exists. Or maybe, it’s a case of not putting forth the required effort.

In lower levels, however, there can be wide variations in the caliber of training provided. For one thing, states are different. In Texas, for example, the Texas Association of Sports Officials affords extensive training. The larger cities also have chapters that conduct training programs.

But not every state and sport is the same, so in many instances, officials may find themselves pretty much on their own. What then? It boils down to how proactive one wants to be.

I believe much of what is done at the collegiate level is readily transferable to lower levels. What is pass interference or a block/charge in Maine should be the same in Utah. Why should a high school baseball umpire not use the same stance that major leaguers use? Why should the strike zone in NCAA not be the same as it is in high school? NFHS rules may call for tweaking here and there, but not too much.

Access the plethora of information available to college officials

That leads me to believe that an aspiring official at any level would do well to figure out a way to access the plethora of information that is available to college officials. Yes, it may be necessary to change things a bit if your national, state or local authority has some unique twists that make what is done at the college level unworkable at other levels. But my experience is that although the rules and mechanics may be different at different levels, situations can and should be handled essentially the same way at all levels, so that training videos can be of immense help.

Something else whose importance should not be minimized is the value of a good mentor. There may not be formal mentorship in your group, but there will be solid, proven veterans, many of whom would be anxious to take a neophyte under their wing. If you’re new to officiating, and maybe even if you’re not, ask around to see who might qualify. Then approach that person and ask if he or she is willing to take you on as a project. A few won’t be, but most will; they’ll be flattered to be asked.

When I started officiating football in 1970, I did not have a mentor per se. But I quickly figured out how to become part of a group of eight to 10 veterans who got together at the same watering hole after chapter meetings. While a lot of the conversation was typical war-story talk, there was also a lot of common-sense back-and-forth that helped me learn how to navigate a football field better than anything I could have gotten out of a book. I used a lot of the techniques I learned back then for the rest of my career.

The bottom line is that I don’t think it matters where you are or what sport or what level you work. There is a wealth of information out there that will help you if you’re willing to figure out how to access it. Referee.com and NASO have plenty of resources. There are also many website discussion boards, some of which involve an exchange of useful knowledge (others are just forums for BS). Or try Googling. Some of what you learn may be at odds with what the powers-that-be in your group or sport have decreed, and in that case you have no choice but to do what you’re told to do. But a great deal of what you access can be used as-is.

Jon Bible is a replay official in the Southeastern Conference. A resident of Austin, Texas, he formerly officiated collegiate and pro football.

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