3 generations of umpires share Father’s Day tradition

OJ Simpson and his son Johnathan, better known as JJ, started a Father’s Day tradition five years ago. They have umpired baseball or softball on the same field on Father’s Day to spend the day together.

This year, the Simpson duo became a trio as JJ’s son Kyler joined in. The three generations of umpires worked together for the first time at a select baseball tournament in Issaquah on Father’s Day. “It feels great that I can umpire with two great umpires in my dad and grandpa,” Kyler said.

Kyler, 14, is still learning the ropes from his father and grandfather. “We trained [Kyler] up, and he wanted to work with his dad,” OJ said. “It is hard to work with his dad because he lives in Seattle, and we are over here. Kyler can only be with us on Sunday so I’m going to make sure the three of us work together for at least a game.”

OJ lives in Silverdale and began umpiring 32 years ago. “I have umpired because I enjoy it and started Kitsap Umpires Kamp,” OJ said. “My bride has put up with it because I didn’t realize I was gone all the time. We had three kids, and I would be at the field from 6 p.m. and get off the field at 11 p.m. and go home.”

OJ brought JJ to his first umpiring game about 20 years ago. “JJ had a call two batters into the game at first base, and he looked at me,” OJ said. “If you got a call, make the call. Don’t worry about it, and he did.”

Since then, JJ has been in and out of umpiring. When he was 17, he was offered to take classes in Florida to try out as a Major League Baseball umpire. However, JJ ran into some trouble and stepped away from umpiring for a few years.

Since returning, JJ averages one game during the week and up to 12 games on weekends. He is on track for over 200 games this season while OJ has pushed up to 500 games in the past. Even though Kyler is far from those numbers, he has begun to work more games at a higher level. However, he didn’t start being an official with baseball.

“Kyler started with refereeing football because he can learn how to play football better if he officiates it,” OJ said. “He will know what to look for as an official, so as a player you know what they are doing. When he earned over $600, that helped him with his pockets, too.”

Kyler was excited to make the jump to baseball recently because he “enjoys helping the kids learn the game that they love to play. My dad and grandpa have inspired me to umpire. Ever since I was little, I’ve always loved watching them umpire and couldn’t wait to do it myself.”

Since OJ has umpired college ball and attempted to umpire in the Major Leagues as well, he hopes Kyler is not held to high standards. Instead, he hopes Kyler possibly pursues umpiring after getting a college degree.

If Kyler decides to travel another path, OJ and JJ will still support him just as much. Until then, they will enjoy their new Father’s Day tradition. “I’m excited that I now get the chance to do it with two of the best umpires in the area and learn new things,” Kyler said.