Born: December 12, 1922 (Victoria, B.C.)
Died: January 5, 2014 (Victoria, B.C.)
Member: Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame (1998)
Doug Hudlin, known as the Gentleman Umpire, was the best-known baseball arbiter on Vancouver Island, working senior leagues but primarily known for his work with children and teenagers. He was a mentor to fellow umpires on the island.
Hudlin is credited as the first non-American umpire to work the Little League World Series held at Williamsport, Pa., which he did in 1967 and 1974. He also twice umpired at the Senior Little League World Series at Gary, Ind.
He began umpiring in 1954, working behind the plate for more than 30 years, where he was known for “good humour, sense of fair play and (a) gentle approach to the game,” according to the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame. “He had the rare gift of being able to control a game without creating ill will.”
Hudlin was a founder and served as first president of the B.C. Baseball Umpires Association, a position he held from 1974 to 1979. He was inducted into the association’s hall of fame in 2011. The umpires present a Doug Hudlin Distinguished Service Award each year to an umpire in British Columbia.
Away from the diamond, Hudlin was a founding director of the B.C. Black History Awareness Society.
Hudlin was the great grandson of Nancy and Charles Alexander, who arrived in Victoria in 1858 and who started a farm in what is now the suburb of Saanich. They had six children and 21 grandchildren and the Alexander name remains prominent on the south Island. Hudlin prepared a family tree in the mid-1990s, recording more than 400 descendents, among them Kevin Alexander, the great lacrosse star.
In 2011, Hudlin was given the honour of introducing Ferguson Jenkins, the first Canadian inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, at a public event in Victoria.
Hudlin’s father worked as a shoeshine man in the basement of the Empress Hotel, where he was not permitted to pass through the lobby. Dances were segregated, as was Chrystal Pool. Like others, Hudlin found on the baseball diamond a venue where the only colour that mattered was the one on the uniform.
“Everything was baseball,” he once told me, “once you were on the field.”
Bill Murphy (left) and Chuck Blaikie (right) present Doug Hudlin with a plaque on his induction into the B.C. Baseball Umpires Association hall of fame in 2011.