Local umpire gets into ASA Hall of FamePublished 4:03pm Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Russell Clarence “Rusty” Josey has been the recipient of three extremely prestigious awards during his high school softball, baseball, basketball and adult league softball officiating careers.
In 2008 he was awarded the Amateur Softball Association’s Association’s umpire of of the year award.
In 2011 he was honored by the Georgia High School Association for 25 years of distinguished service and in 2013 he was named to the Amateur Softball Association’s Hall of Fame.
Josey, who was also a radio broadcaster for WAZA and WMGR , began his umpiring career 28 years ago with the help of a friend. He recalls the story.
“My friend Jacky Deanne, who worked at Amoco Fabrics, was doing some officiating,” Josey said. “One night at a basketball game I was broadcasting Bainbridge High School basketball games. Jacky was there and I asked him to keep my score book and he graciously agreed.
He asked me if I was interested in becoming an official and told him I would like to. I initially started umpiring city league baseball and softball games. I officiated basketball games for 16 years.”
Josey officiated one high school football game in his career and it was done under extremely unusual circumstances. He recalls the occasion very fondly.
“In 1995 I was in the Centennial Field press box getting ready to broadcast the football game between the Bainbridge High School Bearcats and Douglas’s Coffee County High School Trojans when Bainbridge High School athletic director Terry Powell and told me the game officials had not shown up,” Josey said.
“He decided to ask two people from both schools to form the four-man officiating crew. I was certified in baseball, softball and basketbakll but not in football.
Former Memorial Hospital administrator Jim Peak was a retired football official and he and I made up the Bainbridge half of the officiating crew. Jim Dennis, the radio announcer from Douglas, and a non-varsity Coffee County coach whose name I do not recall, made up the Coffee County half of the crew.
“I lived behind the stadium on Long Leaf Drive, so I rushed home to get all the whistles and striped shirts I had from my basketball officiating days,” Josey said. “We did not have any red flags to throw for penalties so we ripped up some towels to use as penalty flags. Coffee County lost in a close game 17-15 and it was quite an experience for me and the other officials.
Lee Folsom, District 1 coordinator for the Georgia High School Association and Southwest Georgia umpire and chief for the Amateur Softball Association says Josey has been a vital part of the Amateur Softball Association in South Georgia for nearly 30 years and is a true umpire’s umpire.
He almost never returns an assignment and he can constantly be found trying to help younger less experience officials become better.
Folsom also points out that Josey has great passion for youth and has shared with him that passion on many occaions.
Folsom says Joseys’ love ‘for the games has placed him in numerous Georgia Parks and Recreation State Tournaments, Georgia High School Association Sectionals and State Finals and Amateur Softball Association Qualifiers and National Tournaments and that those assignments go only to the top umpires in the state.
Josey lists late long-time Bainbridge radio sports announcer Joe Hill and long time umpire Frank Brown has two of his dear friends, role models and mentors.
Josey says three of his biggest thrills came from watching Ashley McNair hit the first Bainbridge High School Lady Cats fast pitch softball home run over the fence, watching Rebecca Shaw, whop pitched on the Lady Cats first fast pitch team, receive the Lady Cats first fast pitch scholarship scholarshiip and watching the late Brian Powell , who went on to pitch for the the University of Gteorgia Bulldogs, and Detroiit Tigers, pitch for the Bearcats and watching three truly great officials, the late coach Lynwood Mock, Palmer Rich and the late W.M. Coyle while he was growing up.
“My biggest honor is to be on the field with our young people,” Joset says. “They are amazing .”