EAST WENATCHEE — Knowing the names of umpires is usually a bad sign. The information is often only learned through a blown call or controversial play.
However, with Danielle and Marty Ouellette umpiring a local high school games, teams and fans get far more than calls on balls and strikes.
They get Danielle’s pregame rendition of the national anthem and other musical performances throughout the game. Batters who reach base may get a chance to joke with Marty. They may even get a chance to pet the couple’s husky, Luna, who hangs out at their games.
More than anything, they see a marriage that began at Wenatchee Valley softball fields.
Naturally, the husband and wife umpire team met when Danielle umpired an adult league softball game at Walla Walla Point Park in 2008, where Marty played as a catcher.
As Marty, a self-described "sports nut" remembers, it was over 100 degrees during the game. Still, he was struck by Danielle's generosity and kindness.
"She was very nice to me," Marty said, adding Danielle offered him gum and cool towels throughout the game. “Bless his heart, he thought I was only nice to him,” Danielle said of Marty. “I’m nice to all of my catchers.”
He passed along his number through another umpire, Danielle called, and the pair arranged a date. When Danielle pulled up on her Harley-Davidson Sportster, Marty didn't recognize her at first. The date went well, and they agreed to another.
The couple continued to see each other, and Marty rekindled a love for motorcycles and bought one for himself. When the pair aren't at the field, they can be found riding throughout the region and country.
They married at home plate at Safeco Field in Seattle in 2013 and held the reception in one of the stadium’s suites.
Both have experience calling games at ballfields scattered across North Central Washington. Danielle began to umpire in 1997, while Marty picked up the craft soon after his retirement from Boeing in 2017.
Danielle is a special education teacher at the Wenatchee Valley Technology Center, and she is just as excited to talk about her students as she is the players.
The Ouelettes call games both separately and as a team. When they call a game together, Danielle is a fixture behind the plate while Marty works the infield.
“We like what we do,” Danielle said.
On May 10 last year, the pair umpired Eastmont High School’s game against Davis High School, and the game offered a glimpse of their different styles.
Danielle spent the game laughing with fans and players during breaks in the action and singing along to Bon Jovi’s "Livin’ on a prayer." Marty is slightly more reserved, though he still shared a laugh with players as they reached base.
Midway through the game, after a collision between opposing players and a brief standoff at third base, Danielle immediately left her position behind home plate. She talked to both sides, but neither was ejected. In Marty’s eyes, both players were partially responsible, but neither deserved full blame.
Danielle then had the Eastmont player sit with Luna the husky to relax the tension further when the inning ended.
“What we do is calm it down,” Danielle said.
After the game, Danielle walked over to get Luna and the pair loaded up their cars in the Sterling Middle School parking lot. Marty finished first, and began to drive away before stopping.
"Bye lovely," Danielle and Marty said to each other before Marty drove away and the pair left, off to separately umpire their second games of the evening.