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Camacho named one of top baseball officials in state

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By Ryan Naus

When Marcus Camacho started to umpire baseball games, it was because he was looking to find a way to stay connected to the game.

He continued umpiring because he loved it and the Kentucky High School Athletic Association took notice, naming him one of the top four baseball officials for the state out of 4,000 officials.

“To be one of the four, it’s great company to be in,” Camacho said. “I feel honored. Knowing that I was sitting with the best of the best and being recognized was an honor.”

“Marcus has had a long career in several sports, donating his time and talents,” Julian Tackett, assistant commissioner of the KHSAA, said. “The best thing he has done over the years is realize that training new umpires is more important than any single game worked. His work in helping to train and develop umpires and to work with and mentor young officials is a form of ‘giving back’ to the sport that he does very well.”

Camacho officiates both baseball and basketball games, but started when he was 16 years old.

“I started with little league baseball and went from there,” Camacho said. “I umpired little league, Babe Ruth league and when I went overseas to teach, I continued in the inter-command league in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (from 1970 to 1973). I like being around the sport and the young people too.”

Camacho has also timed for track, judged for swim meets, been a referee for football and worked regattas.

“Whatever they had, I did it,” Camacho said. “I’ve learned to be real tolerant of people. Not the players as much as the fans. At one time, fans were really bad as far as the way they treated officials. As officials became more recognizable, people identified more with officials. I’ve learned to be tolerant of fans and developed a thick skin.”

With his patience with fans, Camacho has been able to block out the fans and focus on the games.

“It’s difficult at times,” he said. “With basketball, it’s less difficult because you block out the crowd and the bigger the crowd, the less you hear. In baseball, you umpire and the fans are close to the backstop. What I try to do is disarm the fans by going over. They don’t see you as a person when you’re umpiring. They see you as the enemy for some reason. I’ll go over and talk to them and make a joke and they see that I’m a person and just a guy like they are.”

Camacho’s favorite part is staying connected to young players because of his experience as a teacher.

“I always viewed sports as an extension of the classroom,” Camacho said. “I thought athletics taught character, citizenship, social skills and integrity. Baseball is a good sport to teach players because they have several games a week and have time to recover from a loss or a win. It’s a good tool for young people and I’ve always encouraged extracurricular activities to help develop them as a full-rounded person.”

Camacho has also stayed connected by coaching Grant County High School’s girls’ golf team.

Camacho’s favorite moment was a run-in with major leagues on the minor league stage.

“I’ve had so many experiences,” Camacho said. “I’ve even done minor league games. One of the biggest thrills I had was meeting Roger Clemens and having him take his picture with me while I was getting ready to ump a game in Lexington. He gave me some baseballs that I gave to my grandkids. Meeting the former major leaguers that were managing in the minor leagues was an experience.

“I’ve been very happy with what I’ve done in officiating and I’ve enjoyed it,” Camacho said. “It’s something that’s kept me busy and hopefully kept me young.”