Area umpires told they won’t be paid for work

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- It's Christmas week, but a big disappointment for one group of softball officials. They say they were promised paychecks for games they've worked in 2015, but on Monday, they were told there would be no money.

One of those umpires told FOX 4 News as many as 100 softball officials are looking for a paycheck from Midwest Sports Officials, after receiving an email saying they weren't going to get paid. Some of them were expecting more than a thousand dollars.

When those softball referees opened their email on Monday morning, they were burned up by what they read.

“It said, unfortunately, because of expenses outweighing revenue, he wasn't going to be able to pay us,” Rick Redmond, a 10-year softball official, said.

Redmond and Brian Bender have worked as contract employees -- softball umpires -- for a combined three decades. They spent part of their year working as umpires for softball games with teams of players ranging from eight-year-olds to corporate-sponsored events.

“I'm not happy,” Bender said.

On Monday, Midwest Sports Officials emailed them and other umpires, saying they wouldn't get paid for the games they worked this year. Midwest Sports Officials is a scheduler, accepting softball events from third-party vendors and then, paying the referees.

“I felt as though I'd been stabbed in the back. I felt the pain of all my other officials,” Bender said.

Bender says he's out close to $300 dollars, but Redmond says he's seeking more than $1,300, and that some umpires were promised more.

“That's a lot of money,” Redmond said. “The total scope of it? We don't know yet. It could be in the upwards of tens of thousands of dollars when you include everybody.”

Midwest Sports Officials is operated out of a house in Shawnee by its owner Robert Blatcher, who told FOX 4 he can't afford to pay the umpires because unforeseen expenses caused him to exceed his annual budget.

“If I could afford to pay them out of my own pocket, I would do that,” Blattner said. “I am not currently in position to do so."

Blatcher says he feels badly about this, saying non-payment is the last thing he wanted to do. Both he and the two umpires we interviewed say they're in the process of securing attorneys.

*FOX 4 would like to emphasize that the subject of this article is Midwest Sports Officials, not Midwest Sports Productions. The two organizations are not affiliated with each other.