Stanford McFadden was remembered as a man whose heart was even bigger than his legendary strike call when he was calling balls and strikes as a veteran Little League umpire.
McFadden, a well-known youth umpire and football coach in Santa Maria, died Jan. 16. He was 62. The cause of death was not listed at press time.
When McFadden called a pitch a strike, he gave it a “STRIIIKE” pronouncement.
“People all over the city could hear it,” said Bob Draper. Draper, a veteran umpire himself said he worked with McFadden “since at least 2009,” before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the 2020 Little League season.
McFadden’s wife, Dianne, said, “Oh, the kids. Hands down, the children,” as to what her late husband enjoyed most about coaching and umpiring.
Diane McFadden said, “A favorite memory of mine is, one game when he was umpiring, he was running from home to third base (to make a call), and a kid was running from third to home.”
With the two running directly toward each other, and Stanford McFadden wanting to avoid a collision, “He picked the kid up, carried him under the crook of one arm, put him on third base and called him safe,” Dianne McFadden said.
“When he would get ready to umpire, the kids would see this big, brawny Black guy approaching, but they LOVED him. One time in Nipomo, the teams were standing on the first and third base lines for the introductions, Stanford was announced as the home plate umpire and the kids started jumping up and down.”
Stanford McFadden was described as a gifted athlete. He went on to play football at Sacramento State. As a youngster, Dianne McFadden said, Stanford had empathy for those who were less skilled athletically than he was.
“He hated it that some kids were picked last,” for pickup games, said Dianne McFadden. “He made himself (a team) captain and made sure that he picked a kid who (would otherwise be picked) last first.”
Butch Carter coached in the Santa Maria football program with Stanford McFadden.
“I coached five years with Stanford,” said Carter. “His son, Jordan, and mine, Kevin, were a year apart and they both played for (Santa Maria) Southside in the District 65 (Little League All-Star) Tournament. They played sports together a lot.”
Butch Carter and Dianne McFadden described how Stanford McFadden would go out of his way to help youngsters who could not afford athletic equipment, often purchasing cleats for youth football players.
When it came to equipment, Draper recalled with a chuckle, his colleague didn’t always feel it was necessary to wear all the customary umpire gear.
“Stanford was a muscular guy. He used to wear just one shin guard. Finally, he started wearing both shin guards.”
When it came to how Stanford felt about how coaches should deal with their players, “He hated it when a coach would berate a player in front of people. He absolutely hated that,” said Dianne McFadden.
“He would tell a coach, ‘take the player aside, praise him for the good things he has done, then quietly tell him how he can correct his mistakes.’”
While Stanford McFadden was described as gentle and generous when it came to dealing with children, he was the opposite of soft when it came to his approach to umpiring.
McFadden was not shy about calling a spectator out if he thought the fan was being too unruly - or telling a spectator to leave if he thought that was necessary.
“He threw a grandmother out of a game, he threw a grandpa out,” said Dianne McFadden. “He suffered no fools.”
Draper said that whenever a coach implored McFadden to “ask for help,” on a call, his colleague’s standard comeback was, “I don’t need no help.”
“He would say that for all to hear,” said Draper. “He always had confidence in his calls.”
For three years, Draper was in charge of assigning umpires to Little League games throughout the area.
“As you know, we have a shortage of officials,” said Draper. “Whenever I asked Stanford to do a game, he never turned me down.”
Mike Ostini also knew McFadden, from the days when they played football together at Santa Maria High School.
Ostini is a veteran area officials assigner at the high school level. “(Stanford McFadden) did a great job,” Ostini said. “He did a tremendous service for the community.”
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