Special to The Greenup Beacon
From T-ball, pitching machine, Little league, All-stars, and competing at the high school level for the Fairview Eagles, Ryan Holbrook has always had a “love of the game.” If he wasn’t playing or practicing, he would “hang out” at the ball field - while he loved watching the players, it was often the “umpires” that caught his attention the most… he would often go down to the little league field and “call the game” alongside them, to see how close their calls would be.
Growing up in the Ashland area, Cincinnati baseball games were always a favorite. Ryan would be seen with a ball cap and a score book and would hopefully get as close to home plate as possible and score every game.
He hoped he would match the “official” score keep . . . anything to stay in the game.
Holbrook, a 2010 Fairview graduate went on to attend the University of Kentucky and graduated in 2014 with a degree in Integrated Strategic Communications.
While working various jobs since graduating from UK, his heart kept going back to baseball and he applied to the famous Harry Wendelstedt school for umpires in Daytona Beach, Florida. (anybody who knows baseball has heard of this academy.) While the course is intense and concentrated, Ryan graduated and was immediately assigned to an organization. Just as there are “farm teams” for baseball players, there are similar leagues for umpires.
So off he went and was assigned to the Northwoods League with three other Wendelstedt graduates and immediately was reconnected with his love of the game. The schedule is full - 70 games in 75 days – rotating between home plate, 1st and 3rd base with lots of miles on the road in between.
The games in this particular league range from Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and even Canada. While suiting up for one of his recent games, he happened to look up and observes a familiar hometown face and hears a voice calling out… “Ryan Holbrook - It can’t be, NO WAY!”
Ryan replied, is it really you… “Logan Salow?”
Here are two young men who grew up in the little leagues of the Ashland area participating in the same summer organization. What are the odds?
Traveling the road (often many miles between games) a familiar hometown face was refreshing for both of them!
Ryan was hoping to be behind the plate that night and was in hopes that Logan would be pitching – While that wasn’t the case that night, Holbrook affectionately remarked – “I’d call a strike every time for Logan” I know he’s that good!”
It is neat how America’s greatest pastime reunited two local lovers of the game.
While most people go to baseball games to watch the actual game, there have been several who have attended the Northwoods League to watch a certain umpire.
You can see them wearing shirts, donning the words, “I love the umpire” which have gotten a few comments and may urge some fans to be more hesitant in making certain comments. While “catching” the baseball bug over 20 years ago in little league, and perhaps having hopes of “striking” it big in the majors as other locals (Reliford, Gibson, Craft) remains to be seen.
It is “safe” to say Ryan Holbrook is “outta here” for now but has hit a “home run” in the Northwoods league.
You could say, Ryan Holbrook gives the game he loves so much a little extra “ump.”