“The best thing about it is that you are getting paid to be on a baseball field, to work nine innings,” Gonzalez said. “No one goes out there to see us. We’re not the show. The players have the girlfriends, or the coaches or even their parents. They don’t come to scout us. But the best thing is getting paid to do something you love.”
The lack of camaraderie is what Gonzalez misses most about being in the dugout. As he explains, when you are part of a team, it’s you and maybe eight to 20 other guys and coaches, having fun. In umpiring, you are on a small island, with very little to do but focus on the game. “In umpiring there’s no joking around,” he says. “There’s no hi-fiving my partners and saying ‘Yea, you made a great call.’”
Like many New York bartenders, Gonzalez knows not only how to talk it up, but can take a verbal barrage or two. However, one of the ugliest things is when he has to deal with disputed calls, not with a player or manager, but with the fans.
“At a college game in Florida this year, I was the home plate guy and I called a guy safe. Game over. The catcher didn’t argue. The coach didn’t argue. As my partners and I come off the field, one of the mothers just starts dropping f-bombs…f after f after f. It really gets under my skin,”
“The language that can come out I can take it from a player or a coach because we’re big boys. They’re playing the game. But to have a mother [or another parent] come out and do that. It happens a lot more often than we like.”
Some other interesting facts about the profession:
Salary: While major league umpires can get paid from $120 – $350K, minor league umpires start out earning only $1,900 a month. According to Gonzalez, umpires at other levels, like college, can earn anywhere from $120 – $350 per game.
Costs: Umpiring School can cost between $2,500 and $3,500 when adding meals and boarding to tuition fees.
Learn More: Check out Major League Baseball’s How To Become An Umpire
Images courtesy of subject