Little League players in Maine got a lesson in possibility and inclusion when a longtime umpire showed up to the girls All Star game between South Portland and Westbrook in a wheelchair.
Jamie Erskine, who told the Portland CBS affiliate that he’s been around baseball his whole life, was diagnosed four years ago with Polyarteritis Nodosa, a rare disease that restricts oxygen and blood flow to major organs.
Erskine, who has worked the Little League World Series in Portland, Oregon, hadn’t been on the field since his diagnosis.
That all changed this spring when he received a letter from Little League International, approving him to umpire from his chair.
"When she told me I was approved to umpire again from my chair, I cried. I was just so happy because I was getting back a part of my life I thought was gone forever."
Bill Finley, a longtime umpire and current district administrator, put the wheels in motion to get Jamie back on the field.
"He's been a great volunteer and an umpire for 20, 23 years" Finley said.
Erskine was the first ever umpire to be granted permission by LLI to work first base from a wheelchair.
"When Little League International told us we could do it, as long as we had three umpires on the field, my first thought was, 'Let's get him out there,'" Finley said.
For Erskine, the players’ reaction was priceless.
"The kids all came over to me and fist bumped me, thanked me for being there," Erskine recalled. "And I just felt that feeling of being part of something again."