Baseball fans and aspiring amateur umpires of all levels will have a chance to learn from some of Major League Baseball's best this off-season, as the second annual MLB Umpire Camp takes place Nov. 4-11, 2007. The eight MLB umpires that will serve as instructors at the camp were recently announced. Umpire crew chiefs Tim Tschida and Larry Young and umpires Gary Cederstrom, Kerwin Danley, Brian Gorman, Sam Holbrook, Jerry Layne and Brian Runge will work with the campers. MLB Umpiring Department representatives, including MLB Umpire Supervisors Rich Rieker, Cris Jones, Jim McKean and Marty Springstead, MLB Medical Services Director Mark Letendre, Professional Baseball Umpire Corp (PBUC) representatives and several Minor League Baseball umpires also will join the staff.
Field instruction for the Umpire Camp will take place at MLB's Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., and classroom work will be held at the Holiday Inn Long Beach, in Long Beach, Calif. The camp is open to men and women ages 18 and up, with a high school diploma or GED, at the time of the session. Campers are not required to have previous umpiring experience. Registration is now open and those interested in attending the one-week session can register online. Umpires Holbrook and Runge are new instructors at Umpire Camp this year, and the remaining six umpires are returning after participating in last year's inaugural Umpire Camp. Gorman said he lives within an hour of the Compton facility, and he's looking forward to instructing at the camp again. He will help lead the classroom sessions, where campers learn about the rules of the game before going out to put their new knowledge to use on the field. "We split the rulebook into different sections and then [the umpires] all take a section," Gorman said. "Probably an hour and a half, two hours in the classroom [each morning] and then we go out to the fields." Gorman enjoyed the interaction with the students at last year's camp. He said they asked good questions in the classroom sessions and he felt there was some talent in the group. "They were really willing to learn and they were having some fun," Gorman said. "They seemed to have a really good attitude." Gorman and the other umpires will be keeping an eye out for talented futures umpires in this year's camp as well. "Getting some guys out to umpire school and into professional baseball, that's our goal," said Gorman. "To find a couple of prospects and send them on their career." Layne will work with the campers during their field work sessions, helping them learn to call ball and strikes with a pitching machine, evaluating their performance and having one-on-one discussions to help them digest what they're learning. "I'm really looking forward to it," said Layne. "Being able to get out there and hitting fungos and working daily with the guys and gals, I really enjoyed it last year." Layne said one of the highlights last year was following the participants' progress throughout the camp. The campers are video-taped during their field drills, and the umpires review the tapes with them to offer feedback. "Coming back and saying this is where you were at when you started, this is where you were at when you finished -- they can see the improvement on the films that we were giving them," Layne said. "I enjoyed the interaction with the students, because it seemed like everybody just had that big-time enthusiasm of being there," said Layne. "Everybody was eager to just learn and take so much back home with them, it was a lot of fun." The campers will have plenty of opportunities to interact with the umpires throughout the camp, ask questions and receive feedback. Layne credited MLB Executive Vice President, Baseball Operations Jimmie Lee Solomon and Umpire Supervisors Rieker and Jones for their work in giving aspiring umpires opportunities such as the Umpire Camp to develop their skills. "They've just done a fantastic job of going into the community and trying to train umpires, and send guys on out into their careers, and maybe even get started in professional baseball," said Layne.
Christie Cowles is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.