Passing of Joe Okada
Hi, my name is Wayne Saunders a Hutt Valley umpiring colleague of Joe.
Joe was a very proud and sincere man. So much so that he would remind you that he was the Best Japanese umpire in New Zealand and you could call him “Tokyo Joe”, should you wish.
It was only the weekend before last we saw him with Maria at Fraser Park. Yes as you would expect right behind home plate taking in all the action as usual.
Joe was a one off in New Zealand Softball.
An enthusiastic player, translator and liaison officer, Level 5 Scorer and an Internationally Accredited Umpire.
As you have heard Joe’s New Zealand journey started in Whangarei, then to Wanganui before arriving in the Hutt Valley for the 1995-96 season.
On his arrival, he became a member of the Hutt Valley Umpires and Scorers Association’s. Joe had a very good understanding of the game and had an excellent knowledge of the rules.
The National records show that during his early years in the Valley he gained his Level 2 umpire grading in 1996, his Level 3 grading in 1997 and passed his New Zealand Umpires Badge in 1998.
He continued as a player umpire up until 2000, before taking up umpiring fulltime while also continuing as an official scorer, an interest he became involved with while in Wanganui.
Joe’s interest in scoring saw him appointed as team scorer to a number of Hutt Valley representative teams and was a National Tournament winner with the U15 Boy’s team.
Joe continued to rise through the umpiring grades and was promoted to Level 6 in 2002. The following season Joe’s contribution was recognised and he was awarded the Cup for the Hutt Valley Umpire of the Year.
Joe regularly umpired over a hundred games a year.
A regular at Fraser Park, umpiring from age grade to premier. He was also a regular face at National Tournaments, in particular age grade tournaments. He always umpired to the very best of his abilities and was appointed to numerous grand finals.
As well as local and national umpiring Joe also officiated at many other Tournaments like the Doreen Dalton, Saints, Vic Guth, Inter Services, the National League and a number of Internal Internationals.
Being fluent in Japanese, Joe was well sort after as a liaison officer and translator for touring Japanese teams, including the Japanese Men’s team attending the 2013 World Championship at North Harbour. An appointment he was very proud of.
In February 2014 Joe’s umpiring career reached another high when he attained Accreditation as an International Softball Umpire. Accreditation Number 1304- Fast Pitch and New Zealand’s 46th internationally certified umpire.
Tokyo Joe you were a likeable and dedicated servant of our game. RIP