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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 15, 2018

Shull readies for hall-of-fame induction

Local umpire talks HOF induction, battle with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma
Jul 27, 2018
Photo by: Submitted photo Micah Shull

By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News

 

The state baseball tournament is wrapping up in Des Moines this weekend, and that means it’s time for the 2018 Hall of Fame class as chosen by the Iowa Baseball Coaches Association.

One of those names inducted this year will be Mt. Pleasant’s own Micah Shull, a longtime umpire who has 13 state tournament appearances including a handful of state championships.

Shull will be inducted on Saturday in between games at Principal Park. He says he couldn’t believe it when his wife Melissa told him the news.

“She said I have a surprise for you,” Shull recalled. “She came home and opened the letter and I just couldn’t believe it. I was shocked.”

Shull had been an umpire since 2003 but recently had to retire from officiating games as he battles Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. He and crew-member Marshall Cotton have had a lot of memories over the year, but Shull says one that sticks out was the first time he was able to umpire a state tournament game behind the plate.

“That’s what you work for all year long,” Shull says. “Your final goal is to hopefully get to a championship game.”

Being an umpire in a state tournament game comes with the same nerves and thrills as being a player, says Shull. He recalled his first inning behind the plate, and what it felt like to be an ump on the big stage.

“It’s unbelievable,” Shull says. “It’s hard to describe... my hands were shaking. I was nervous (but) after the first three or four pitches, you’re finel.”

One recent memory that sticks out in Shull’s mind was when he was behind the plate for a thrilling Class 1A state semifinal between West Sioux and Don Bosco in 2016.

In that game, West Sioux scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth, the second of which came on a squeeze bunt and a close play at the plate.

“They got it down and the guy scored,” Shull recalls. “It was a bang-bang play and I called him safe. It was crazy. Everyone was going crazy and we were trying to get off the field.”

Other memories that popped into Shull’s minds included a Class 2A state football championship between Spirit Lake and Mt. vernon, a game that ended 70-56 for the highest scoring 2A state championship in history. Shull says that game in particular gave him quite the workout, chasing the plays all over the field.

“From the opening kickoff, either they scored or got down to the five-yard line,” Shull says. “It was like every possession they were scoring. It (felt) like playing basketball.”

The Hall of Fame induction comes at a special time for Shull, who has seen an outpouring of support ever since he began his fight with Lymphoma. Mt. Pleasant residents will be glad to know that Shull, hwo is still in rehab, says he’s seeing improvements.

“I’m doing a lot better,” he says. “I’m walking a little now with a cane (and) when I first got home from Mayo Clinic, I was pretty much wheelchair bound. I can pretty much walk with no canes at all, but it’s a daily struggle.”

Shull left Mayo about three-and-a-half months ago. He says Mayo was a little concerned when he left to go to Mt. Pleasant, but that they didn’t miss a beat.

“It was right where Mayo left off,” Shull says. “My therapists were absolutely terric. Mayo quality, I would say.”

Shull says he’s seen a lot of love and support since he’s been fighting his health issues, especially from those whom are closest to him. In particular, his parents and closest friends, who he says he couldn’t get through it without. He also mentioned the Mt. Pleasant community, which put together a benefit for him last summer.

“The community has been great,” Shull says. “They did the benefit for me and it was overwhelming. I’m not one to ask for help, I try to do it myself, but the Mt. Pleasant community has been good.”

Recently, the Iowa High School Athletic Association and Iowa Girls’ High School Athletic Union has had a bit of trouble finding referees and umpires for various sports, and have called on Iowa residents to consider giving the job a shot. Shull offered a little advice to those who are thinking about getitng into it.

Shull says he considers some of the local coaches his best friends and says he never had that much trouble with parents or coaches, which is often a concern of an aspiring official.

“I’d tell the new guys to jump in there,” he says. “You’re going to take your lumps. Be a quick learner (and) if you mess something up, call someone and ask them about it and get it corrected.”

Shull also says he’d encourage older umpries to take younger ones under their wings. He says he wishes he had done more of that when he was officiating, and encourages any aspiring umpires and referees to contact him with questions.

“If someone has a question, call me,” Shull says. “I’d be more than willing to help.”

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