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Robson appointment caps big week for Aussie umpiring

Kingsley Collins

9 December 2016


At the pinnacle of his umpiring career for some years now, Western Australian Brett Robson has earned further international recognition through his appointment to the officiating panel for Round One of the World Baseball Classic to be held during March of 2017.


The first Australian to umpire professionally in United States – a trailblazer in his field - Robson officiated at the Premier 12 tournament in Taiwan last year and he continues as a respected and long-standing adjudicator in Australian Baseball League and club competition.


A professional umpire for twelve years, Robson worked in the United States Minor League system and he was a regular appointment at AAA level, with one of many highlights in his career being posted at first base for the MLB Futures All-Star Game in 2010.


A respected and long-standing official in Australian Baseball League competition - now with a focus on umpiring development – Brett Robson has been a regular representative at international baseball events, more recently at the 2014 Under 21 World Cup and the 2015 Premier 12 held in Sapporo and Taiwan.


“I suppose that the WBC appointment came about largely because of my work at the World Cup and then at the Premier 12,” Robson told Australian Baseball Alumni on news of his appointment this week.


“The Premier 12 was definitely a stepping zone,” he said. “In itself that was just an amazing experience that met all of my expectations – even though I did not make it through to the playoffs.”


“It is really pleasing and a great thrill to be recommended for the Classic.”


Robson’s initial appointment for the World Baseball Classic will be for the first round, when the sixteen competing teams will lock horns across venues in Tokyo, Seoul, Miami and Jalisco Mexico. He will be scheduled for games in Seoul between Israel, South Korea, Chinese Taipei and Netherlands.


“I will not be allowed to do any of the Australian games in Tokyo, so all of my first round games will be in Seoul,” said Robson, whose progression further into the Classic will depend largely on the performance of the Australian side.


“I believe that staying on the umpiring panel for the next round depends on whether one’s own country gets through. If Australia qualifies for the second round then I could be on my way to San Diego or maybe even to the finals in Los Angeles.”


Although Brett Robson will not be returning to baseball umpiring in United States – where he came up just short of reaching Major League level – he is keeping busy in his profession and he certainly has much to offer over many years to come.


“My last year in the states was the make or break year,” he said. “There is so much talent there now that I probably reached my optimum level.”


Now the Head of Technical Officials with Baseball Australia, Brett Robson performs a crucial role in the development of Australian umpires while himself continuing to officiate at Australian Baseball League level and with club baseball in Western Australia.


While none of the ABL umpires will be travelling this season, Robson will be a regular fixture at Perth Heat games and he expects to be officiating at the 2017 Under 16 and Under 18 National Youth Championships in Sydney during January – where he will doubtless catch up with mentor and umpiring elder statesman Geoff Robertson, who is relishing a more laid-back role in the sport these days.


“Robbo still has some involvement in umpiring – nothing terribly serious,” Robson said. “I am just grateful to have him involved and still around the game to help out.”


“I have spoken to him, and I know that he is really happy about my appointment to the Classic.”


One of Brett Robson’s umpiring associates in Western Australia is Fiona Lambrick, a former Victorian who has been in the news in recent days for her appointment to a Women’s All-Star Game and to Australian Baseball League umpiring duties at Melbourne Ballpark over the weekend.


“That is a huge story, and a huge appointment,” said Robson, who is ever-willing to acknowledge the achievements of his umpiring associates.


“Fiona has always been a prospect and she will be the first female to ever have umpired in an Australian Baseball League game. Hopefully that may lead to her being appointed as a regular to the ABL umpiring panel.”


While delighted with the improving standard of umpiring and the opportunities that the activity offers to committed persons, Brett Robson has himself very much to look forward to – notably the World Baseball Classic appointment and, further down the track, potential involvement at the 2019 Premier 12 and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.


“The way that Australian baseball is travelling in competing at international tournaments, we must be a good chance of making the Premier 12,” he said. “As long as we can maintain our ranking position at eleven or under then we are a real chance of making the Premier 12 and possibly the Olympic Games – although that event might be limited to the top six from the Premier 12.”


“There are exciting times to come for Australian baseball – and there are some real opportunities, for players and officials.”


“I will definitely be making myself available for those tournaments.”


Australian Baseball Alumni congratulates Brett Robson on his appointment to the umpiring panel for the World Baseball Classic. We thank him for his assistance in the preparation of this story and we wish him continuing success in further enhancing the profile and the professional standing of Australian baseball umpires – both at home and abroad.

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