While it may seem that being an MLB umpire would be a dream come true, the reality is that it’s a highly demanding and thankless job.
They need to work 162 games during the regular season with their attention completely focused for the duration of the game. Any missed or questionable call will certainly lead to an earful from a team’s manager.
“Today In 1980: Baltimore #Orioles manager Earl Weaver launches into a legendary argument with umpire Bill Haller after getting himself tossed in the top of the first inning of a game vs. the Detroit #Tigers at Memorial Stadium! #MLB #Baseball #History ” – Baseball by BSmile
Umps face tremendous pressure to make the correct call on every single play for three or more hours. They all need to crouch behind the catcher for an average of 300 pitches per game, with fastballs coming in at 100mph or more. They are also vulnerable to being hit by one of those fastballs if the catcher misses the ball.
While there are several reasons why being an ump in the MLB would be a demanding and stressful gig, there are plenty of benefits as well. The most obvious benefits of being an MLB ump are the salary and the relationships developed around the league.
The average salary for an MLB ump in 2022 was $235,000. While rookie umps start with a salary of roughly $150,000, the more experienced veterans can make upwards of $400,000.
Recently retired legendary umpire Joe West had a reported salary of $450,000.
“Umpire Joe West officially retired today with an MLB record 5,460 games under his belt. Here he is ejecting Aaron Boone in 2019” – Talkin’ Yanks
An ump is as important as the players, for better or worse. While the goal of the umpire is to remain anonymous, some have become notorious for their inconsistencies or poor game calling.
Angel Hernandez is a prime example of this. Widely regarded by fans as one of the worst in the game, Hernandez’s fame, unfortunately, comes from a plethora of incompetent calls throughout his career.
Road to the show for an up-and-coming umpire
The MiLB Umpire Training Academy in Vero, Florida, is the starting point for many prospective umps.
Run by former Major and Minor League umps, students spend months in the classroom learning, performing on-field drills and doing live game exercises. Once the program is completed, only a handful will be selected to begin work in the Minor Leagues.
From there, it all depends on their service time and their evaluation by the MLB. After several years, they may eventually be called up to the Majors. It’s a long, yet rewarding process if an ump can reach the top.