Southwest Washington Umpire Teams Up With Great-Grandson


Sports have always created familial bonds. It’s natural for parents to pass along their sports knowledge — from favorite teams to signature moves — down to their children in order for them to keep it going to the next generation.

Recently, local umpire Gordon Dunn got the unique opportunity to suit up for the Lower Columbia Umpire’s Association with his great-grandson Logan Setera, taking the family bond of sports beyond playing careers and into the realm of officiating.

“This year he wanted to go to a meeting to see if I could ump with him so I decided to go along and went to the meeting to see what it was all about,” Setera said.

Dunn, 79, umpired Setera, 18, back in 2016 when he was in the little leagues, and struck the idea to get on the diamond one more time with Setera because he “wanted to work with the great-grandson.” And on a Friday night at John Null Park a few weeks back, the duo got to team up as arbiters for a little league outing.

“It was a really cool experience since he was able to ump my games and I was able to ump some games with him,” Setera said.

Setera, who called the game behind the plate while Dunn kept his eye on the basepaths, can easily recall those games where Dunn umpired and he played, and now six years later he saw some of the same things from a different angle.

“All throughout my little league baseball, he was always telling me what to do as a player, but now he was telling me what to do as an umpire,” Setera said. “So that was a pretty cool experience to see that transition in instruction.”

While Dunn’s advice to a young Setera was to “just swing the bat and don’t be afraid of the ball,” his advice these days struck the same vein.

“As an umpire I was keeping my strike zone a little tight, so he was like ‘Open it up, make those kids swing the bat. They’ve got to learn how to swing the bat,’” Setera said.

Dunn has spent over four decades umpiring in the area, so it was second nature when he filled his great-grandson in on some of the more nuanced rules, like the infield fly and dropped third strikes.

“He definitely helped a ton with those rules that I was not familiar with,” Setera said.

But while the multiple generational umpire crews potentially broke new ground as a great-grandfather and great-grandson combo, not to mention one of the biggest age gaps between an umpiring duo, they likely won’t get the chance to strap on the chest protector and ump together again soon. That’s because Setera, who just graduated from Castle Rock High School as one of three valedictorians, is headed to Great Lakes, Illinois, this week for two-and-a-half weeks of naval training as part of a scholarship.

After that, Setera will head to the University of Hawaii to study aerospace engineering while working to be a naval officer over the next four years.

While Setera’s eyes are set on the future, he appreciates the opportunity to umpire with his great-grandfather before heading out of town.

“It was huge to me and it was huge to him ... we made the most of the opportunity we had and just took it and ran with it,” Setera said.

Dunn is also appreciative of the moment, and adds that it brought them closer together just as they are set to be farther apart.

“It was a relationship like we’d never had before, we actually became friends,” Dunn said.

While Setera will certainly be busy over the next four years, Dunn is already eyeing some of his younger brothers to get some umpiring experience and continue the family tradition once they are out of school.

Ump Shortage Still Looms

Setera wasn’t around the umping business too long, but he’s already seen how thin the Lower Columbia Umpires Association is. He knows they are low in numbers and have to run skeleton crews at best, with worst-case scenarios involving just one umpire for little league games, and the threat of outright cancellations always looming large.

“The umpire world is short on umps, so getting other people to ump is huge,” Setera said.

Setera hopes that the other kids that he got to see take to the diamond will want to give back to the community and umpire once their playing days are done, going so far as to advocate for it to the younger players.

Setera also mentioned that the youth leagues are suffering the most, and the requirements to qualify aren’t very stringent, so he hopes to see more people step up to do what it takes so that the younger players can learn America’s pastime and eventually pass it along to the next generation.