June 20, 2024
Life After Witt

Leading Decision-Maker

Stu Hartenstein ’09 Named Director of Umpire Development and Operations for Little League International

They may not be a member of either team, but baseball umpires are people, too. The best ones rise to the top of their profession in part due to relationships they build with the players and coaches with whom they share the field.

For Stu Hartenstein ’09, building relationships has been central to his success since he was a student at Wittenberg. Those lessons in relationship-building have paid off professionally for Hartenstein, who was named director of umpire development and operations for Little League International in February 2024.

“My Wittenberg experience was far from the ordinary, as so many people not only became aware of my passion to umpire, but they found ways to pour into me to support me in that endeavor, develop me, create opportunities for me, and to stay in touch throughout those experiences and long after,” Hartenstein said. “That makes me so overwhelmed with gratitude, appreciation, and admiration for the experience my friends, their families, and the faculty and staff at Wittenberg helped create. Undoubtedly, their support, encouragement, and confidence in me as a student, as a person, as a professional, and as a very young umpire, has always and continues to be a foundation of inspiration for me that is appreciated beyond what I can put into words.”

In this new role, Hartenstein provides oversight for the administration and development of the umpire program for Little League International at all levels. Hartenstein, who played Little League baseball in his hometown of Clayton, Ohio, and started umpiring when he was still in middle school, previously served as the central region director for Little League International.

Hartenstein has served as an Umpire-in-Chief at both the local and district level, and he has been a member of the Central Region Umpire Advisory Committee and the Little League International Umpire Advisory Committee. Hartenstein has served as the Central Region Tournament Umpire Coordinator, and he was an umpire for the 2007 and 2008 Little League Baseball Central Region Tournament, even before graduating from Wittenberg with a double major in history and education. Prior to joining the professional staff of Little League International, Hartenstein taught social studies and coached boys’ basketball at two different Ohio high schools, and he taught history and was an assistant men’s basketball coach at Denison University.

While he didn’t earn a degree in umpiring, Hartenstein credits the breadth and depth of his Wittenberg liberal arts education for setting him up for professional success. It all starts with relationships – with other students, professors, and the players and coaches on Wittenberg’s baseball team.

“Very easily, the best memories I have about my Wittenberg experience are the relationships I had with so many people at Wittenberg,” Hartenstein said. “Certainly, the friendships I had with our baseball team during my time as a student at Wittenberg stick out the most. Many of those guys were close personal friends, but to be able to share with them many personal moments on top of learning and experiencing baseball from a different perspective certainly contributed to my understanding of what makes a special, unique umpire that is appreciated and different from the rest. Many of those guys, and their parents, were huge supporters of mine when I was umpiring college baseball, and even to this day, as my career takes off with Little League International.”

Among the people who impacted Hartenstein while at Wittenberg were Ann McGree, who worked in dining services for many years and took a personal interest in students, and professors who got to know him so well that some even attended his graduation party in suburban Dayton. Among the faculty members he mentions are Deb Mallonee and Robert Welker (education), Molly Wood and Tammy Proctor (history), and Warren Copeland (religion).

I can go on for days about how the faculty and staff developed my philosophy on education, executing the principles of good teaching while understanding the fundamental pillars of instructional pedagogy, or how all of those beloved writing intensive courses in our history department, emphasizing the use of evidence to support claims, has helped me as an educator, a college basketball coach, and now, as the director of umpire development and operations with Little League International. I lean on those lessons, and the evolution of them through my career experience, every day, to help me to do the things necessary to be successful.
Stu Hartenstein '09

Wittenberg’s unique personal approach to a liberal arts education even extended to the baseball program. Jay Lewis ’94, the Tigers’ head coach at that time, gave Hartenstein some amazing opportunities during his undergraduate career. Hartenstein honed his umpiring skills during the team’s scrimmages and in the batting cages during practices, and he even traveled to Florida for Spring Break each year with the team. As Wittenberg played its games, Hartenstein was getting his own “spring training” by working other college games around the state.

His Wittenberg experience culminated with a truly unique senior night near the end of the 2009 Tiger baseball season.

“Thanks to an assigning blunder, umpires were not assigned to the senior night contest between Wittenberg and Kenyon College,” Hartenstein said. “I was in attendance and got to umpire that game as the plate umpire. That game featured me as the plate umpire, and two of my lifelong friends, even before my Wittenberg days, JT Thompson and Tim Antil, at shortstop and pitching for our final go in Carleton Davidson Stadium. That is one night and one experience that I will never forget.”

Ryan Maurer
Ryan Maurer
Associate Director of Athletics for Communications, Web Strategy & Content

About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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