Dressed in his green uniform complete with his duty belt, Okaloosa County Sheriff Resource Officer Tyler Thomason, assigned to Destin Middle School, stepped up to make the calls at the Destin Marlin versus Shoal River Mustang baseball game earlier this week.

He wasn’t wearing blue or even carrying an umpire’s indicator, but no one questioned his calls.


Dressed in his green uniform complete with his duty belt, Okaloosa County Sheriff Resource Officer Tyler Thomason, assigned to Destin Middle School, stepped up to make the calls at the Destin Marlin versus Shoal River Mustang baseball game earlier this week.


Thomason was already there for security purposes, plus "I like supporting our Marlins," he said.


But with game time closing in and no umpire to speak of within sight, Thomason stepped up.


Destin baseball coach Matt Cawthon called and asked him if he would umpire the game.


"He knows I played baseball back in high school and that I had been around the game for a while and he asked me if I minded calling ... I said if our administration is good with it ... I’m good with it," Thomason said.


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Thomason, 26, played baseball at Pensacola Christian in middle school and then at Tate High School.


"I played mainly catcher which helps calling balls and strikes if you’re used to that," said the 26-year-old.


And from the coaches standpoint he did a great job.


"He did great," Cawthon said.


"He’s a baseball guy and we were very fortunate. The referee got in a wreck, so it was just one of those things you couldn’t help," Cawthon said.


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"But we’re glad he stepped in there," Cawthon said.


And needless to say he didn’t get any "lip" from the dugout.


"No, he’s got a gun," coach joked.


Thomason says he’s called some softball scrimmages in his time, but never an official baseball game.


"I’m glad I was standing out in the field and not behind the plate," Thomason said with a smile.


This year the middle schools have only one umpire for their baseball games, due to a shortage of officials in the area. The solo umpire stands behind the pitcher to call the game.


After Monday’s baseball game, Thomason said he received a lot of positive feedback.


"I heard positives from both sides," he said.


"The coaches were super glad to have me out there. Parents were glad I knew what a strike zone was," he said with a chuckle.


Although Thomason’s duties as SRO is to make sure the students and faculty are safe, being safe at the plate is not usually a call he has to make.


But he was up to the task for the students, he said.


"I just wanted to let the kids play. I didn’t want it to be about me or anything," he said.


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"The kids wanted to play, so I wanted to make sure they got a chance to play."


Thomason said if he had been in their shoes, prepared and dressed to play, he would want to play as well.


As a matter of fact, the day after the game he said he had both baseball and softball players come up to him and say, ’hey, when are you going to call the game again?’, he said.


Destin eighth grader Hunter Barber pitched during that game on Monday.


"He did a good job ... not to be a referee," Barber said, noting he was fair.


Destin Middle School Athletic Director Ron Griffiths spoke highly of Thomason.


"He always does what’s best for the students of this school. It doesn’t matter if its during the school day or an extracurricular activity ... he’s going to do what’s best for the students," Griffiths said.


"The kids love the guy and he enjoys being around sports."


Griffiths went on to say that Thomason did a great job and got several compliments from parents and coaches after the game and didn’t receive a negative comment from either team.


"He was consistent for both teams ... we were glad to have him," Griffiths said.


Last week marked Thomason’s one year anniversary serving as SRO at Destin Middle.


He said when he was first hired into the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office he expressed an interest in serving as an SRO.


So when the opening at Destin Middle came about due to an SRO retiring, he was asked to fill in.


"I fell in love with it and I’ve been here every since," Thomason said.


Since then his lieutenant has asked if he would like a post closer to home, Crestview, but he has turned it down.


"I love it out here. I like the kids. Love the salt air and the beach is right there," he said pointing to the south.


As SRO, Thomason says he just tries to be there for the kids.


"If a student is having a bad day or rough time. I try and be approachable. So they can talk to me about anything that is going on to help them out," he said.


However, when he’s not helping and working at Destin Middle he’s at home with his wife Kaitlyn and baby daughter.


But the question remains, would he step back onto the ball field to make the calls?


"Maybe," he said.