More than 100 aspiring umpires from eight countries are at Historic Dodgertown this month for Minor League Baseball’s annual Umpire Training Academy.
The Umpire Training Academy is the country’s only all-inclusive umpire training program, preparing aspiring professionals on the technical side of the game.
This year the 101 students hail from America, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Japan, Mexico and Venezuela, and represent the largest international contingent in the history of the academy (see attached photo).
The instructors are all current or retired professional baseball umpires. Since 1997, 62 umpires hired by Major League Baseball have come through the Minor League Baseball Umpire Development system.
Each day, the students start their mornings with classroom instruction in the Jackie Robinson Room before moving outdoors for afternoon field work. Dressed in traditional umpire uniforms, the students of the game line up on Historic Dodgertown’s fields and in unison practice their umpire mechanics.
The Umpire Training Academy has called Historic Dodgertown their training home since 2012. Historic Dodgertown was the Spring Training home of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers from 1948-2008, and more than 150 Hall of Famers have played and visited.
The umpire students and instructors stay in the same hotel villa rooms and train on the very grounds played on by legendary ballplayers and umpires, including umpires Al Barlick, Doug Harvey, Dutch Rennert and Bruce Froemming.
“Minor League Baseball is proud to grow the game from the ground up, and that includes umpire training,” said Pat O’Conner, President and CEO of Minor League Baseball. “The Umpire Training Academy held at Historic Dodgertown gives our students the benefit of practicing on Major League designed fields that were played on by professionals and umpired by some of the best in the game. This is as close to real-world experience as any student of baseball can receive, and that is why we choose to return to Historic Dodgertown year after year.”
The concept of an umpire school at Dodgertown can be traced back to 1954. Former Dodger owner and Hall of Fame member Walter O’Malley wrote a letter to the Vero Beach City Manager, dated Feb. 3, 1954:
“I believe the year will come when one of the great umpire schools will be located at Dodgertown…” O’Malley said.
For more information on Historic Dodgertown please visit www.HistoricDodgertown.com.