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As my career in umpiring progresses, I’m coming to understand how umpiring can be much more than simply calling balls and strikes.

Much more.

The good men and women that I’ve worked with and met along the way, from the most timid and confused youth ump to the most experienced MLB guys, all have one thing in common—we all love to hear other umps’ stories, don’t we? We love to share our experiences, our wins, our losses, what we’ve learned along the way. Where we’ve been and where we are hoping to go. Why we do what we do and pour so much of ourselves into it season after season.

I believe that every umpire has a great story, and I’m excited to share them with you. On the podcast, on social media, and in other exciting ways up ahead, we’ll hear from umpires around the world who will encourage and energize us in some pretty awesome ways.

You’ll note that we don’t discuss rules, mechanics or instruction here. There are many other terrific umpire websites and communities that tackle those topics in as much detail as you could ever want—and besides, every level of play, every organization, every association is different. Instead, Umpire Inspire is all about the unique, encouraging, motivational stories that every umpire can tell. It’s about the journeys that every umpire has been on, from the newest Little League volunteer to the most experienced MLB guy, to get where they are today. Most important, it’s about the heart of being an umpire. Why we do what we do. Why we love it. Why it inspires us, and how we can use our role to inspire others. We celebrate the men and women, the young and old who leave it all out on the field

Sounds pretty rosy, doesn’t it? Well, make no mistake, I’m not naí­ve; yes, there are strongly negative feelings these days toward umpires from MLB all the way down (depressingly) to Tee Ball. We’ve all read the stories in the news and we’ve all seen the haters online. Like you and every other working umpire out there, I’ve had unfortunate encounters during games and I’ve heard things that make my skin crawl. It’s a huge challenge that each one of us faces and must address as best we can in our own way.

As for me, I choose to address when necessary but not indulge this negativity—not during my games, not as a teacher and trainer of young umpires, and certainly not here at Umpire Inspire. I think—no, I know—that we can do so much better than the stereotype: 

We can not only enable but enhance the experience of playing ball for the young people we serve.

We can demonstrate what it looks like to give one’s time & effort, one’s work ethic and attention, one’s heart and soul to serve in an others-focused way. 

We can use our unique position to lead younger or newer umpires toward the satisfaction of service and to the great sense of purpose found in being a part of a healthy, relational community. 

Yep… a lot more going on here than balls and strikes.

I’ve had the good fortune of learning from and working alongside some umpires who truly are bright, shining lights. Just the most quality human beings you can imagine. They exude confidence and competence on the field and their games go better because of it. They seem to know exactly why they are there. And that is their superpower—the ability to stand tall and deflect and minimize the dull, stereotypical stuff and to model the positive, motivating, inspiring aspects of being an umpire. They are amazing. And they’re the kinds of umpires I am so excited to introduce you to here at Umpire Inspire. 

If you’re the kind of umpire that believes that you’re a servant to the game, to the players, to the fans & families—yes even to the coaches—and to the greater community of umpires in your hometown and around the world, then Umpire Inspire is for YOU. I’m so happy you’re here, and I hope you enjoy it! 

jason@umpireinspire.com 

Hear more of my own umpire story in my recent guest appearances on other podcasts:

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Umpire Inspire’s Patreon contributions are temporarily paused during the hiatus between Seasons Two and Three.

Many thanks to the awesome UI Crew Members who have supported the show via Patreon so far—you are the engine behind this effort!