It’s not every day you get to talk to a major league umpire. Today I got a chance to have an extensive interview with Jim Reynolds who has been a major league ump for more than ten years, to help kick off the UMPS CARE charity auction online. (Auction kicks off today onlinewith some truly amazing items, including a #44 All-Star Game jersey signed by President Barack Obama, the 44th president.) I picked his brain on a lot of topics, from concussions and the recent firings of umpire supervisors to how statistical analysis has changed the game of baseball and umpiring in particular.
Reynolds didn’t initially plan to be an umpire. As a student at UCONN, he studied communications, and had a job all lined up with a television station after graduation… but peer pressure led him to give umpiring a try.
Peer pressure? Yeah. It was during a fire drill in his freshman year that Jim struck up a conversation with another student standing around waiting to go back into the building. They became good friends and he suggested that Jim take a one-credit class on umpiring that UCONN offered. The students in that class got to work the games for the college team and then in the summer Jim was able to work a regular daytime summer job and then make extra money calling a few games a night. Then his friend told him when they were getting ready to graduate, that he wanted to go to major league umpire school, and wanted Jim to go with him.
“450 kids go and only 40 make it, he told me,” Jim explained, “So my TV job was waiting, and they told me go ahead and give it a shot, and if you don’t make it, your job is here. So I went for it and not only did I make it, he and I both made it.”