Little League baseball is something that has always played a big role in Byron Hurd’s life. Spring time is baseball time – and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
When it comes to the Milford Little League, chances are that Hurd is involved in it, whether it is managing the Yankees Major League team of 9- to 12-year-olds, sharing the chief umpire role with Dennis Stump, or serving on the league’s board of directors.
Hurd was busy lining up the players to march in Milford’s Little League parade down Walnut Street last Friday evening, just before Opening Day got underway on Saturday morning.
He knows that from here on out, it’s going to be one hectic time of the year in trying to balance a full-time job, family life and Little League.
“It’s extremely difficult because my son plays travel ball and it’s year-round and then doing the Little League thing [managing and umpiring] and being on the board, it’s pretty much a full-time job along with work,” said Hurd, 47, who works at a shore water refining business.
“During the regular season [until at least June], we’re out here five nights a week.”
The thing with Hurd and all of the coaches, umpires and others associated with Little League is that they are volunteers who do their jobs for the love of the game and the children.
Hurd doesn’t have to look far for inspiration. He just has to drive to the ballpark and see his old Little League coach and mentor Bill Bullock out there cutting the grass five or six nights a week at Milford’s fields.
Hurd, who loved to play catcher, began playing in the Milford Little League when he was 7 and didn’t stop until he was 18.
He has seen first-hand the lessons that Little League can teach kids.
“The best thing is keeping the kids off the street and keeping them out of trouble,” Hurd said. “They need mentors and for a lot of them, this is the only place they get it is being affiliated with a sport or youth organization.”
Plus, one never knows exactly how far a team can go in Little League. The dream of playing for a world championship in Williamsport, Pa., is always in the back of coaches’ and players’ minds.
After all, the Milford Big League Softball team captured the World Series title in Roxana last summer, the first world championship for a team from Milford.
For Hurd, it’s all about the experience.
“You become a family once you become a team because you’ve got to be at practice together and you’ve got to be at games together,” Hurd said. “You really are together a lot more during the season than you are with just your regular family.”
This is the time of year that is all about balls and strikes for Hurd. Well, that and the children.