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Fields Of Dreams

Dodgertown’s Diamonds now play host to 101 aspiring umpires

Umpire Training Academy students assemble on the field every afternoon for an hour of conditioning and call-making drills.

Umpire Training Academy students assemble on the field every afternoon for an hour of conditioning and call-making drills.

If you asked a million people what they do for a living, one of them might say professional baseball umpire. There are only 310 of them in the United States and Canada, 76 in Major League Baseball and 234 in the minors.

Looking to break into those ranks, 101 hopefuls descended upon the Jackie Robinson Training Complex, formerly Historic Dodgertown, at the beginning of the year. They were here to take part in an intensive four-week course run by Minor League Baseball known as the Umpire Training Academy. The program, created in 2012, is a requirement for anyone wanting to become a minor or major league umpire. It shares that duty with one other program in the U.S., the Wendelstedt School for Umpires in Ormond Beach, Florida.

The purpose of the JRTC program is twofold. The first, according to its director, Dusty Dellinger, is to “supply 16 domestic leagues with quality umpires.” That’s the goal for many of the attendees, but not all. “We’re also looking to grow knowledge within the amateur ranks,” Dellinger explains. “For those not seeking pro aspirations, they can go back to their associations and become leaders and teachers.”