Umpires to host annual camp

Umpires to host annual camp

For those who aspire to be standing in a double-deck stadium as a Major League umpire some day, it's time to do a little California Dreamin'.

The third annual Major League Baseball Umpire Camp, which proudly has 16 alums from the past two years currently working in the Minor Leagues, is scheduled for Nov. 9-16 in the Los Angeles area. Featuring a staff that includes well-known former MLB umpires, as well as current active supervisors from the Professional Baseball Umpire Corp. (PBUC), the camp is geared for all levels of experience and scholarships will again be offered this year.

Among the former MLB umps on hand will be Bruce Froemming, Larry Young, Steve Rippley and Rich Rieker. Froemming has the all-time record for years worked as a Major League ump with 37 full seasons. He retired last year, as did Young, who is the camp's chief classroom instructor.

Young was the first and only umpire named to the MLB playing rules committee. Also on hand will be former MLB umpire Steve Palermo, who is one of the supervisors.

"This is a path and a gateway to get to the umpire schools, to the Minors and, hopefully, to the Major Leagues," said Rieker, the MLB umpire supervisor and umpire camp coordinator.

Registration is open for this year's camp, which provides field instruction at MLB's Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., and classroom instruction at the Holiday Inn in Long Beach.

People interested in attending the one-week session can register online. Camp participants must be at least 18 years old with a high school diploma. Previous umpiring experience is not required.

"Our staff is second to none," Rieker said. "For somebody who wants to see if they should make the investment to go on to a five- or six-week umpire school, our camp is a great way to get your feet wet and to see if you have the skills necessary to move on to the next level."

From the classroom to the field, campers will have the opportunity to cover all the elements of umpiring through first-class training.

"We go over every aspect, from putting on your shoes and shin guards, to how to work a game, to how to handle situations with irate players and managers," Rieker said.

There is ball-and-strike training in the pitching cages and field work under the tutelage of PBUC instructors, who are experts in the two-umpire system.

Even elements such as nutritional and hydration education and anti-tobacco workshops are covered during the week. Under MLBUC medical coordinator Mark Letendre, the campers are shown how an umpire should properly stretch to get ready to work a game.

"Mark has studied what we do as umpires for nine years and has come up with a set of specific stretches that meet the plate and base needs of an umpire," Rieker said.

Following the morning rules session at the hotel, campers will be transported by bus to the fields. The entire two-ump system is gone over. There will be live batting cages going on and campers will be able to keep DVDs of his or her plate work.

Instructors will be on hand to critique at all times, while former and active Minor League ballplayers will play the games that give campers the opportunity to make calls at game speed.

Students who go on the Minor Leagues will have the advantage of having already been observed by PBUC officials, who supervise umps in the Minors.

Rieker said scholarships will be offered to both the Jim Evans' Academy of Professional Umpiring and the Harry Wendelstedt School for Umpires.

Even those who just want to hone their skills so they can be better umps for Little League, recreational and high school baseball can meet their goals at the MLB Umpire Camp, which is under the guidance of Major League Baseball in conjunction with PBUC.

An added bonus this year is that each student will receive a copy of the Virtual Umpire Camp CD-Rom, which was just created five months ago and lists all the two-, three- and four-umpire mechanics currently used in pro ball.

Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.