WESTFIELD, NJ – Eddie Reed, an umpire for the Amateur Baseball Association of New Jersey, has soared to fame over the last week after a video of his lively call-out style taken during a game in Westfield became an overnight internet sensation. ESPN plans to air a feature on Reed later this week.
The video, shot on July 20 at the Westfield High School field during a game between the Westfield Tomahawks and the Riverside Bombers, shows Reed coming out from behind home plate to call out players, bellowing his call and using pop references such as the song “Gangnam Style” and rapper “2 Chainz.”
As of Sunday the video, taken by Tomahawks second baseman Jeff Bendix, had garnered more than 800,000 hits since it was picked up by a sports blog from the original posting on YouTube.
“This is a rec league. It’s grown men. Sometimes these games, you’re doing double-headers, and it can drag,” Reed said Sunday. “A little bit of entertainment doesn’t hurt.”
Reed noted that, before the games start, he makes sure to get the green light from both teams to incorporate his antics.
“He’s not there to show anybody up,” said ABA co-commissioner Larry Frank of Clifton. “He’s there to crack people up.”
A father of six, Reed, 47, grew up in Newark playing baseball and football and running track. A knee injury kept him from playing beyond high school, but he has kept his love of baseball alive by umpiring in the ABA over the last 10 years.
“I don’t play anymore, so I’m having my time now,” he said, adding that he umpires with his son Malik when he is home from college.
Reed started his memorable call-outs about two years ago, when Frank asked him to spice up a slow game with a punch out on the third strike.
“I did ‘Whoomp There It Is.’ The guys kind of woke up,” he recalled.
Reed, who works as a computer technician and lives in Newark, gets his inspiration from hip-hop, jazz, popular slogans and sitcoms. He even takes requests.
The success of the video has surprised Bendix, who had never posted footage to YouTube before last week. He hopes Reed gets positive feedback and exposure from the thousands of hits.
“I’m happy for him. He’s a good guy,” said Bendix, a 2000 graduate of WHS who now lives in Hunterdon County.
With many players from Westfield and Scotch Plains, the Tomahawks are part of the ABA’s Northern New Jersey Wood Bat Elite Division, and the team won the division’s championship last year. The ABA is comprised of 86 teams from Northern and Central Jersey who represent a variety of skill levels.
Fans can catch Reed next when he officiates an ABA game Aug. 2 at Newark’s Vailsburg Park.