Major League Baseball (MLB) umpires are the unsung heroes of America's favorite pastime. They are the arbiters of the game, enforcing rules, making judgment calls, and ensuring fair play. But who do these umpires work for? Let's delve into the world of MLB umpires to understand their roles, responsibilities, and employers.
The Employers of MLB Umpires
Historically, umpires were engaged by agreement between team captains. However, since the start of the modern era in 1901, umpiring became a league responsibility. Today, all MLB umpires are part of a unified roster under the auspices of Major League Baseball. This change occurred after the 1999 labor dispute that led to the decertification of the Major League Umpires Association.
The Path to Becoming an MLB Umpire
Becoming an MLB umpire is no easy feat. It requires rigorous training and only a small percentage of those who start the journey succeed. Aspiring umpires must attend one of two umpiring schools authorized by Major League Baseball. These schools offer intensive five-week programs where students learn the skills and techniques needed to officiate professional baseball games.
The top students from these schools are selected for an extra one-week evaluation program conducted by the Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation. After this, they may be offered an umpiring position in Minor League Baseball, starting at the Rookie level. It typically takes 7-10 years of satisfactory progress to achieve MLB status.
The Roles and Responsibilities of MLB Umpires
MLB umpires have a host of responsibilities. They are charged with beginning and ending the game, enforcing the rules of the game, making judgment calls on plays, and handling disciplinary actions. They also have the authority to remove any participant from a game.
In addition to these duties, the home-plate umpire, also known as the umpire-in-chief, has the crucial task of inspecting each of the baseballs supplied by the home team to ensure they meet regulation standards.
The Compensation of MLB Umpires
MLB umpires are well-compensated for their work. As of 2018, major league umpires earn between $150,000 to $450,000 per year depending on their experience. They also receive a $340 per diem for hotel and meals, plus first-class commercial airline tickets. In addition to their base salary, MLB umpires also receive benefits such as health insurance, pension plans, and per diem expenses for travel.
MLB umpires work for Major League Baseball, but their real job is to serve the game of baseball itself. They are the guardians of the sport's integrity, ensuring that every game is played fairly and according to the rules. Their role is challenging and demanding, but it is also rewarding, offering them a front-row seat to some of the most exciting moments in sports.