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BLD blue calls 5,000 game

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BLD blue calls 5,000 game

Manteca’s Todd Felis (center) became the first person in Manteca Big League Dreams’ history to umpire 5,000 softball games on Wednesday evening.

Photo contributed/


POSTED December 13, 2013 12:38 a.m.

Todd Felis hung up his glove and spikes in 2005, following one last softball tournament in Florida.

The longtime Manteca resident thought he was done with the game; that his career had reached its proverbial ninth inning.

“After that tournament it was all about hanging them up and moving,” he said.

Or so he thought.

While his playing days were over, Felis would spark a new love affair with the sport of softball, coinciding with the opening of Big League Dreams Park on Milo Candini Drive.

He began umpiring adult softball games – at a record clip, too. The 48-year-old has called more than 1,800 games in the last two years and has averaged more than 700 games since 2008.

The work load reached a major milestone on Wednesday evening during an 8 p.m. contest between “Got Cut?” and “Bighick.com.” When the classification game went final and the 12-7 score was logged in the book, Felis had officially umpired a record 5000th game at BLD.

“It takes a lot of determination,” said Felis, whose run at the milestone was interrupted in May 2011 by a health scare that left him in a coma for four days. Within 48 hours of waking up, Felis, who lives with a benign tumor on his brain, was back behind home plate.

“It’s not about going out there thinking about the 5,000th game, but showing up to do a job. It’s about being there when they need me and not turning down work. I love doing this. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have come close to this milestone.”

BLD officials thanked Felis before the game with a card and gift bag, which included a beanie and balls-and-strikes counter. It turn, Felis was appreciative of the opportunity afforded to him by BLD General Manager Roy Fetherolf and staff.

BLD Sports Coordinator James Wright chronicled the milestone on the park’s social media accounts, posting pictures of Felis and the teams that participated in the game.

“I’ll give you one word, ‘consistency’ – one of the Big League Dreams Park mantras,” Wright said of Felis and his accomplishment.

“Todd went about his games as he always does, never letting the moment bother him or allowing himself to lose focus,” he later added. “He was the same Todd during game 4,998 at 6 p.m. as he was in game 4,999 and 5,000. When he called ‘ball game’ and knew game No. 5,000 was in the books, he continued with his normal routine, changing his scoreboard to start the next game and making sure to record the game’s score on his scorecard. Then and only then did he come out to take the photo.”

Then, true to form, Felis went about umpiring No. 5,001.

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