There were adventures and detours, for sure, along the way for Ed Hudson, but inevitably Hudson found his way to the baseball diamond because that’s about all he had ever known.
A Chattanooga-area native of Red Bank whose late father, Victor, was a fixture umpiring softball in the Scenic City, Ed Hudson carved his own path and yet also paid tribute to his father in the process.
“My dad, as long as I can remember, umpired some baseball but a lot of softball,” said Hudson. “I was always with him at Warner Park back then, and I just always watched him and was interested in umpiring.”
In a career that spanned time behind the plate in the Southeastern Conference as well as all the way to Minor League Baseball’s AAA level, Hudson is being honored as a Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association Distinguished Service Award winner for his contributions educating and training umpires at the high school level throughout the Volunteer State.
For more than two decades, Hudson teamed with TSSAA Assistant Executive Director Gene Menees to operate the association’s bootcamps that trained the umpires who worked baseball throughout the season and Spring Fling.
Routinely drawing 40 or 50 participants to the sessions, Hudson drilled and tutored umpires in weekend-long seminars.
“We taught them mechanics for 25 years. And according to Gene, he felt like it helped the umpiring,” Hudson said. “I enjoyed it and kept doing it.”
After Hudson had first started his post-high school endeavors as an engineering major at Tennessee Tech, he then logged several years in service in the United States Air Force.
“I had this uncle, Uncle Sam, who offered me a job and I couldn’t turn it down, so I went into the Air Force for four years,” said Hudson, noting part of his service included being stationed in Southeast Asia. “But when I was in the Air Force, I made some connections that helped me get into umpiring.
“I met long-time National League umpire Harry Wendelstedt, and he gave me a pamphlet for an umpire school where he was an instructor. So when I got out of the military, I went down to umpiring school in Florida, got a job in the minor leagues and started umpiring.”
Hudson returned to southeast Tennessee, landing a job at the Tennessee Valley Authority, where he worked for nearly three decades before he retired from TVA in 2007. Hudson remained a fixture in training TSSAA umpires for more than an additional decade.
“I stopped doing the clinics for TSSAA when COVID hit in 2020,” Hudson recalled. “I was in the first class that Gene had when we taught high school baseball umpires. I started with him and I ended with him.
“I think we did a good job for the time period that we had to do it in, doing as much as we could in a weekend when umpire training was usually several weeks long. I enjoyed just giving a little bit back.”
TSSAA proudly salutes Ed Hudson for his many years of service to high school athletics in Tennessee.