De Jesus debuts as first MLB umpire from DR

De Jesus debuts as first MLB umpire from DR

For the first time in Major League history, a Dominican umpire took the field. Ramon De Jesus, who hails from the capital of Santo Domingo, made his Major League umpiring debut on Friday at Comerica Park in Detroit, where the Indians beat the Tigers, 2-1.

De Jesus, who first began umpiring in Santo Domingo in 2002, has been a Minor League umpire since '09, and he was working in the Pacific Coast League this season prior to his promotion to the big leagues. He'll work two games this series, he said, before returning to the PCL.

"It means a lot," De Jesus told a pool reporter after the game, "just because coming from a country like the Dominican Republic, a big baseball country, and being the first one, it feels real nice."

Speaking to Dominican Today about his experience umpiring in his home country, De Jesus explained, "I became an umpire at the hand of Mónico Zayas who, in the Sports Ministry of Santo Domingo, gave me the opportunity to work in different amateur leagues, such as Little Leaguers up to the independent baseball league."

The 32-year-old worked Friday's game in Gary Cederstrom's umpiring crew, which also includes umpires Eric Cooper and Adrian Johnson. De Jesus wore No. 18.

"He did a real good job," Cederstrom said. "I worked with him in Spring Training several times, and he's a very talented umpire."

His MLB umpiring debut came in front of several of his countrymen. There are four native Dominicans on the Indians' active roster -- pitcher Danny Salazar, designated hitter Carlos Santana and infielders Juan Uribe and Jose Ramirez.

De Jesus is the fourth current Major League umpire to represent a home country outside the United States, along with Manny Gonzalez (Venezuela), Angel Hernandez (Cuba) and Alfonso Marquez (Mexico).

De Jesus' road to the Major League umpiring ranks included stops throughout the Minors. Prior to joining the Pacific Coast League, he umpired in the Gulf Coast League, New York-Penn League, South Atlantic League, Florida State League, Eastern League, Arizona Fall League and extended spring training.

Earlier this season on April 11, Major League umpires wore commemorative patches to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the MLB umpiring debut of Emmett Ashford, the first African-American umpire in the league's history.

Umpires honor Emmett Ashford

Now, De Jesus brings about a modern milestone. MLB, a league with hundreds of players born in the Dominican Republic and filled with Dominican superstars, finally has a Dominican umpire calling a game.

"It was a routine game," De Jesus said, "and that's what every umpire wants to have every night."

David Adler is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @_dadler. Jason Beck, who has covered the Tigers for since 2002, contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.