Keep this in mind the next time you feel the need to get on an umpire’s case: Mike Mack is a good guy. And now, the Anchorage man behind the mask is being rewarded for his demeanor, dedication and skill to call and keep a Little League game under control.

He’s been selected to umpire in the Little League West Regional Tournament in San Bernardino, California, in August. It’s a call that’s been 24 years in the making.

“We all spend a lot of time learning the rules of the game,” said Mack. “Not just the rules, but how to move around on the field. How to deal with the coaches, the kids. It’s an ongoing process. A lot of us spend a tremendous amount of time and resources learning how to do this the right way.”

Like many who become involved in kids’ athletics, Mack’s two boys played T-Ball. And at that level, the parents need to contribute. So Mack had three options: coach, work the snack bar or umpire.

“And I thought umpire sounds like it would be the easiest.”

Consider it a blown call.

“I found out I was really terrible at it, really, really awful.”

So Mack dedicated himself to learning both the rules and game management. After nearly a quarter century of volunteer work, he’s being recognized. And it’s an honor especially for an Alaskan. Once every five years, an umpire from the 49th state gets the call.

And in Mack’s case, while his kids are long done with Little League, he’s still calling balls and strikes.

“I still loved it and they still needed people out here. They just didn’t have anybody. Umpires are a dying breed. We don’t see as many adults turning out to do this, so I said I’m just going to keep doing this.”

Remember it the next time you heckle an umpire. Because after years of making calls, Mike has received his. And it’s the perfect pitch.