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Calling Balls and Strikes

Calling strikes on Barry Bonds and punching your fist to let Ichiro know he's out are just some of the highlights of being a baseball umpire. You also have to be willing to hear an earful from an angry manager and be ready to duck from pitches that are a bit outside.

So how do you get a job working behind home plate at a baseball game? To find out, Kidzworld talked to Jim Evans. He spent 28 years working as an umpire for Major League Baseball. Jim made the calls during four World Series and three All-Star Games. He now runs one of only two professional umpire training schools in the United States.

What Makes a Good Baseball Umpire?

A good ump has to be able to do more than just yell, "play ball" and "yerrrr out. The best umps are the ones that are intelligent and have a complete knowledge of the rules. They have to be very confident in themselves and sure that they're making the right call," says Jim. They also have to be quick-witted and good communicators. Jim says, "A nice booming voice is great to have [kwlink]on the diamond[/kwlink]. It's important the umps get along with players, managers, fans and the media."

Becoming a Baseball Umpire?

Every umpire in the big leagues must first go to one of the two umpire training schools sanctioned by Major League Baseball. To get into Jim's school, you must be 18 years old, have your high school diploma, be in [kwlink]good physical[/kwlink] shape and have eyesight correctable to 20-20 vision. (Remember that next time you hear someone make a blind umpire joke.) The cost of the five-week course is about $3400 US.

The top students are given assignments at rookie league games. Umpires must spend at least two years umping in rookie league and six more years making calls in the minors before they'll be given a chance at the majors. But your shot at the big leagues isn't guaranteed. Only two or three new positions open up per year in the big leagues.

Baseball Umpire - How Much Do You Make?

  • Rookie League - $1900 a month.
  • Major Leagues - $125,000 - $350,000 a year (depending on experience.) Umps also get $265 a day for expenses and get free flights to their games.

    For more on umpires and umpire schools, head to www.umpireacademy.com or www.umpire.org.

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    Who Makes More Mistakes?

    • Baseball umpires.
    • NBA refs.
    • NHL referees.
    • The teacher who marks my tests.

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