Umpires for Arundel baseball leagues are motivated by love of the game

The Baltimore Sun

By day, Beau Brown is a letter carrier in the Millersville area. By night, he delivers for Little League games as an umpire.

Brown, 26, has had a love affair with baseball since childhood. Although he never played in high school, he often spends his days daydreaming about his part-time gig as an umpire.

"You're always thinking about the game," Brown said. "You're always anticipating what kind of game you're going to have and what you're going to do."

A newspaper ad pitching a job for umpires caught Brown's attention about five years ago. He's been calling the shots ever since.

He began getting assignments from the Edgewater-based Maryland Diamond Umpires Association and became an assistant assigner for the group. Brown tries to get as many assignments as possible during the season. There have been times when he's umpired games six days a week. Brown has officiated at as many as 12 games in a week and worked five games on one Saturday.

His umpiring schedule varies week to week. For example, Brown served as an umpire for one game each last Friday, Saturday and Sunday in a baseball tournament in Gambrills.

Umpires receive $40 to $65 per game, based upon the ages of the children in the game and how many umpires work the contest. It's usually just one umpire per game, but they'll occasionally go to two in Little League contests. The money adds up, but Brown said he that is not why he does it.

"I go out there because I enjoy the game of baseball," Brown said. "It's a good tutoring thing for kids, and it's good to pass on the knowledge."

Becoming an umpire is not easy.

The Maryland Diamond Umpires Association offers an approximately 12-week training course from January through March each year. The umpires review rules and information every Wednesday night at Annapolis High School and then do field training at Magothy River Middle School each Saturday. They take a written exam at the end of the three-month session.

There are about 55 umpires in this group, and Brown estimated there are perhaps 150 umpires overall in Anne Arundel County. Several of the umpires do softball games.

Joshua Roach appreciates the umpires' dedication. He is an athletics supervisor for Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks and keeps his eye on baseball programs and plays softball.

"We can't have a league without [umpires]," Roach said. "It's absolutely necessary to have umpires. They know the rules ... and they keep games running smoothly and on time, for the most part."

There also are umpires who work high school, college and sometimes professional games.

Phil Wrye, assistant general manager of the Bowie Baysox, said that on the rare occasion when the team needs to find an umpire to fill in because of injury or illness, the team or Eastern League uses people trained for the higher levels.

However, Little League also uses students as umpires. Phil Sharp is an 18-year-old from Baltimore who has been umpiring for a little more than a year. Sharp works with the Blue Devils, an umpiring association that covers Central Maryland. He also trained for the job and picked up a few games each week to make some money this spring.

"This is a way to stay involved in baseball when you're not playing," Sharp said. "I really like it."

Brown said he's also learned that an umpire can't be perfect, so he works a game and heads home to relax and prepare for the next day.

"It's tiring at night," Brown said. "I go home and go right to sleep."

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