VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Bob Campbell and his wife went for a walk one day and along the way, Bob’s walk led to a lifetime profession and passion that he still enjoys today.
“First time I ever umpired a game, my wife and I were walking. She was pregnant and we walked by this Little League game and I was the only guy there. They did not have an umpire and they asked me to umpire and I did. I played baseball and I thought, anybody can do this. That was the wrong answer,” recalled Campbell.
That was in 1958 in Charleston, S.C. Bob Campbell remembers it like it was yesterday. “In fact, I wish I got the name of the pitcher. He was a little left-handed pitcher who was a super little kid,” said Campbell.
Campbell was in the Navy at the time. He has since worked thousands of baseball and softball games. In 1970, he began his umpiring career here in Hampton Roads. He worked Division 1 college baseball for over 35 years. Today he umpires seven days a week. From High school fields to recreation, Campbell enjoys the young players the most.
“The older they get, the more they expect. But the young kids, they just want to play. Just leave me alone, let me do my thing and have fun,” added Campbell.
Campbell has just about seen it all in local baseball. He says coaches, parents and players put too much emphasize on winning. “And when they do lose, don’t blame it on the umpires, the field, a rock that got in front of the ball. Don’t blame it on something else. You lost.”
Along with calling games, Campbell instructs and evaluates younger umpires who are learning the craft. “I love it. I really do. I love the look on their face. I like to watch what they learn. I like to see them on the field.”
Campbell’s great work has been recognized for years and he hopes that other baseball people see him one way on the field. “Fair and consistent. I like that.”