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Major League Baseball umpires taught Marines how to properly call a batter or runner out during an MLB umpire camp at Tony Gwynn Field April 16. Marines were able to get behind home plate and make real calls for batters from El Camino College, Compton, Calif.,who volunteered in the event.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Manuel F. Guerrero

Marines have what it takes for pro umping

19 Mar 2009 | Lance Cpl. Manuel F. Guerrero

More than 140 Marines and sailors from across the Southern California region participated Monday in a one-day umpire camp hosted by Major League Baseball in Tony Gwynn Stadium at San Diego State University.

The day was geared towards showing Marines and sailors a great opportunity in a field they can excel in and to also enjoy a day at the ballpark, commented Maj. Michael J. Gervasoni, the deputy inspector for Headquarters and Service Battalion for Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, who first had the idea of getting Marines involved with umpiring after he attended a similar umpire camp last November.

“We taught them the basics of a two-umpire system in this one-day crash course,” said Cris H. Jones, an umpire supervisor for MLB. “We crammed in two or three days worth of work and taught them fundamentals behind the plate on how to call balls and strikes, calling fair and foul balls, positioning and situational management.”

Many of the characteristics umpires use match those instilled in Marines throughout training.

“They enforce rules, follow orders, make quick decisions, and are in great shape, which is what we look for,” said Rich Rieker, an umpire supervisor for MLB. “They have parallel skill sets, and that’s why they picked everything up pretty well.”

The Marines applied their knowledge to master the umpiring skills.

“The personality of an umpire goes hand-in-hand with the personality of a Marine,” said Sgt. Cesar A. Vela, an aviation radio technician for Marine Tactical Air Command Squadron 1 at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. “When you are leading a platoon you have to be loud and confident, Marines can also bring that to the field as an umpire.”

Even the baseball players from El Camino College Compton Tartars, Compton, Calif., who traveled two hours, to partake in the event, noticed the Marines took command at the plate.

The Marines came out here with an advantage because of their background, attentiveness and the fact they are so vocal, explained Ray A. Eidinger, a pitcher for the team.

The umpires brought more than 233 years of combined experience to the plate for the eager Marines.

“They gave us all of their experience because they have actually been there and done that,” said Lt. Col. Eddie Fox, the director of the Western Recruiting Region-Prior Service Recruiter at MCRD San Diego.

This is a good opportunity for Marines to network because every city needs baseball umpires, commented Paul Runge, an umpire supervisor for MLB.

“This type of event makes Marines understand that there are opportunities out there for them,” said Gervasoni. “It gave them another option, and a valuable skill. It’s a win-win situation for both the Marines and the communities they’ll impact.”

At the end of the day, the Marines were treated to free gifts, a day at the ballpark and a gateway to a new opportunity as a baseball umpire.