Steve Austin was one of the greatest umpires in West Michigan (I would say “ever” but I don’t know too many umpires from outside of West Michigan). Steve’s passion for baseball was infectious. His passion for umpiring was even greater. I met Steve in 2006/2007 when I was starting my career as an umpire, he was an instructor at a clinic I attended. The man knew his stuff and was eager to share it with others. Steve was all about professionalism, he lived it with both his actions and his words. My goal was to be like Steve, to be accepted by him and by his inner circle of elite umpires.
I will never forget the first time Steve complimented me as an umpire. I was officiating a game solo. I had a coach fly off the handle at me and started questioning my knowledge of the rules. Steve was the UIC (Umpire in Chief) for the tournament and was close by. He heard the coach out and reminded him of the rules, the exact rule I was enforcing. After the game he gave me a pat on the back and at that moment I knew I have been accepted by him as a “good umpire.”
Steve gave credit where due but at the same time he wasn’t afraid to “remind” an umpire when they did something wrong. He did it with grace, but you didn’t make the mistake again. I don’t know an umpire that didn’t love Steve and if there is, I wouldn’t want to be his partner.
~Jack Miller, Steve Austin Memorial Board Member