Stories from the Press Box

June 26, 2017
By: Gwen Begley

It isn’t exactly something I’ve always wondered about, in fact I wouldn’t have ever thought about it until the other night. I was in Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre covering the Railriders game and as I’m sitting in the press box a main joins me. We go through introductions and after we get to talking I find out that he is an ‘Umpire Evaluator’. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “what the heck in an umpire evaluator?”, well I would soon find out.

This man, who shall remain nameless for his sake, told me countless stories about his days as an umpire in the MLB and MiLB and I was certainly fascinated. After years on the field, he reached a point where he had to take a step back from the action. This is when he was given the opportunity to become an umpire evaluator. 

From the what I gathered after talking with this man, an umpire evaluator is someone that is employed by the office of the commissioner of baseball that will come to games unannounced (to the umpires on the field). He will watch every single move that the umpires make and will event take into account the way their clothes fit and their attitude during a game.

Now, this again is something I have never even thought to consider. Who knew someone came to baseball games and wrote notes on an umpires clothes being too baggy? Not only is it an evaluators job to monitor certain calls on the field but it is also his job to judge an umpires “energy”. He had mentioned that one of the guys on the field had little to no energy. He then compared him to an umpire that supposedly had a very good presence. How does one even tell? Aren’t umpires/officials/referees supposed to be essentially invisible until a problem arises?

Anyway, these evaluations all play a part in whether or not an umpire will succeed, and by succeed I mean get called up to the big leagues. Yes, umpires are similar to professional athletes in a sense that they are all trying to make it to the show. This is something else that truly fascinated me. This particular evaluator then told me that the MLB holds camps for aspiring umpires to learn from those who are more experienced. I will be attending one of these camps to find out more, so stay tuned!