Larry Ciavarella began his long association with the game as a youth player in the North Hill baseball league, but made his name as a highly respected umpire at several levels over a long period. Ciavarella, who has lived in Kent for the past 35 years, began his umpiring career in the Hot Stove Baseball Association as a teen. He and a friend coached a team in the North Akron League playing at Sammis Park and part of the requirements of coaching was to umpire games on days your team did not play. Ciavarella, who was a varsity golfer at North High School, was quickly recognized for his ability and effort and was rewarded early with assignments in the district and state tournaments. “I was umpiring a state championship game in Alliance and an old guy came up to me after the game,” Ciavarella said. “I thought I was going to catch some grief from one of the losers.”
The old man wasn’t fan of either team – it was longtime Summit Umpires Association chief Dick Leidig. “Leidig had nothing but great things to say about my work,” Ciavarella said. “He set me up to get into the association’s training program in the fall and I started doing games the next spring.” Ciavarella, who retired in 2009 as a City of Akron employee after working 32 years at the water treatment plant at Lake Rockwell near his home, was a member of the Summit Umpires Association for 24 years. Ciavarella started in Summit Umpires Association officiating American Legion and high school games. His reputation for quality umpiring quickly spread and earned Ciavarella assignments at the collegiate level. “I had been doing games for free for four or five years,” Ciavarella said. “It was great to work at a higher level and actually make some money as well.” Ciavarella became a familiar and friendly face on the college baseball scene working NCAA games at various levels as well as NAIA games for 17 years.
Ciavarella umpired in the Big Ten Conference, Mid-American Conference, Ohio Valley Conference, Ohio Athletic Conference and North Coast Athletic Conference for nearly two decades, doing regular-season games and postseason tournaments for the conferences. Ciavarella was busy in the summer as well. He umpired games in the Akron Class AA Baseball League and the Canton Class A Baseball League for two decades. “I love the game of baseball,” Ciavarella said, “and umpiring gave me the best seat in the house to watch the game I love so much.”