WARNER ROBINS -- For the past 10 years, Robbie Guest has walked to his mailbox during the months of December and January just waiting for his letter.
An envelope to make a dream come true. A dream of the Little League World Series.
Guests prayers were answered when he received his letter in January.
Players arent the only ones who dream of heading to South Williamsport, Pa., after all. There are volunteer umpires who spend their days thinking about being able to work on the international stage of the Little League World Series.
Ive been making that walk to the mailbox for 10 years now, Guest said via cell phone as he made his way between Volunteer and Lamade stadiums to where he would don his own uniform to umpire third base in a nationally televised game Friday.
Good guy, good umpire, Marshall Casey said during the Little League Southeastern Regional Tournament held in Warner Robins a few weeks ago.
Casey is the Umpire-In-Chief of the Southeastern Region, and he umpired with Guest at the Southeastern Regional games when they were held in St. Petersburg, Fla. in 2004.
Casey said an umpire has to work his way through the levels to just be recommended to call games at the regional level. They start at the local level, then move to doing district or sectional games. Once successful, the umpire is recommended by the umpiring chief to do state tournaments. After state, there is the opportunity to work at a regional competition.
Applicants send in letters each October for their desired tournament. Then the wait begins. An umpire only can work one Little League World Series tournament. Caseys moment came in 2007.
Guys that spend a lot of time umpiring, their reward is to call a World Series tournament, he said.
Guests time at the ballpark is paying dividends.
If you make it, you are one of the lucky ones, Casey said.
And making it is more than half the battle. Guest has been umpiring for 25 years since he was 16. He got his start at Bloomfield Little League where his younger brother played, his father coached and his mom was a team mom.
I never played, he said, joking that he didnt have the athleticism.
Most of the time, he was at the ballpark keeping score. One Saturday, there was a shortage of umpires, and he was asked to help on the field.
Once he got the bug, he started finding substitutes to work the scoreboard so he could umpire. After graduating high school, he started gaining experience on high school baseball fields, as well.
I expanded my experience to not just Little League, Guest said.
He moved to high school baseball and also works in Division I softball as an umpire.
Still, he volunteers at Little League parks around Middle Georgia, traveling from Vine Ingle Little League to Warner Robins American Little League.
He has umpired in three regional games, in 1997, 2000 and 2004.
And now, in 2012, his yearly walk led him 840 miles away from home to Lamade Field at the Little League World Series.