You never really know who your childhood friends are going to grow up to be.
Growing up in Salida, Shane Armenta spent a lot of time with Chris Guccione. They played baseball together and hung out together.
Guccione went on to become a major league baseball umpire, and Armenta got into umpiring as well.
“I used to do some games with Chris when we were in Little League. We played ball together in high school; his dad was my coach,” Armenta said.
Today, Armenta works high school and college games around Colorado, but when Guccione came back to Colorado to umpire at the 2021 MLB All-Star game, he didn’t forget his childhood friend.
Guccione submitted Armenta’s name to umpire at the High School All-American game, one of the games played at Coors Field during MLB All-Star weekend. The game was played with top All-American high school baseball players, many who will go on to be drafted.
Armenta covered third base, while Ted Bergquist from Fort Collins umped first base and Aaron Young from Silverthorne covered home base.
“There was a lot of work and prep leading up to the game, a lot of paperwork,” Armenta said. “Once the game started though, everything just clicked. I talked with the other umpires after the game, and we were all surprised how smoothly it went, never having worked together before.”
And it all came together because Armenta and Guccione played Little League together.
“Chris is such a great guy,” Armenta said. “A couple of years ago, I took a ball to the mask and mentioned to Chris how I’d like to get one of the new masks. He said he could get one for me through his MLB job, and a couple of weeks later an entire MLB-class set of umpire equipment showed up. It was great.”