Making the calls since 1969

Arbutus resident Pete Lloyd, a familiar figure on area baseball diamonds since 1969, demonstrates making a call at Arbutus Middle School. (Brian Krista, Patuxent Publishing / April 13, 2014)

The difference between Pete Lloyd and other dads who offered to umpire their sons' Arbutus Little League games in 1969 is that the other guys knew when to quit.

Not Lloyd.

He's still going strong 45 years later, volunteering to umpire games for Little League Baseball, the umbrella organization for several age-group divisions from tee-ball for ages 5 and 6 to seniors for ages 15 and 16.

The longtime Arbutus resident is also the umpiring chief for District 4 of the organization, which covers Baltimore city and county, and Anne Arundel County. He supervises 22 umpires and has mentored hundreds of others throughout his career.

Back in the day, Lloyd, known by a countless number of youngsters throughout the years as "Mr. Pete," would work as many as three games per day.

Perhaps as a concession to his age, the 75-year-old now limits his work to two games daily and only one behind the plate.

"The field (umpiring the bases) is less taxing than calling balls and strikes," he said.

Lloyd will be back on a diamond April 26 for the official opening day for the Arbutus Little League.

The day before that, there will be a Challenger League baseball game, part of a new adaptive coed baseball program in the area geared for special-needs kids.

The Little League parade for all participants will be May 10.

Lloyd said his hobby started innocently enough.

"The first game my kids played, they needed an umpire," he said. "One thing led to another."

It also led to Lloyd learning the sport from all angles and permutations, and being aware of many things that most observers of the sport don't grasp.

Besides the obvious skill of learning how to call balls and strikes — "see it, hear it, call it" is his golden rule behind the plate — as accurately as possible, there are other considerations to keep in mind.

The 1955 Catonsville High grad points to field mechanics as an area equally critical to a game being called fairly.

"Umpires have to know where to be and how to get there without getting themselves in trouble," he said.

To that end, Lloyd's crews attended a clinic that ran three hours per session for seven weeks during the winter.

"You literally go through the Little League rule book from beginning to end," said Arbutus Little League Commissioner Butch Miller. "Mr. Pete is just so accessible. He'll help anyone at any time."

If that sounds like an awful lot of time to volunteer, it is.

"It's the hardest hobby I've ever had," Lloyd said. "But it beats licking stamps."