MLB umpires visit sick kids at Phoenix Children's Hospital

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- For a group of major league umpires, the game of life on Tuesday was not about balls and strikes, but about bringing smiles to the faces of kids at Phoenix Children's Hospital.

“This is the most rewarding day of the year for a major league umpire. A chance to come to a hospital and bring a smile to children's faces who definitely need smiles,” MLB Umpire Bill Welke.

These guys are part of an organization called "Umps Care" and throughout the years they've met with numerous at-risk youth and children coping with serious illness.

“Having three kids of my own, that are healthy, we take that for granted a little bit so this is an opportunity for us to see these kids and lighten up their day a little bit with the Build-a-Bear. It makes us feel good after the day is over,” said MLB Umpire James Hoye.

On Tuesday, kids got a chance to pick out a new stuffed animal, choose his clothes, and also talk baseball with the guys who will be calling the shots during Tuesday night’s game when the D-backs host the Marlins.

Patient Gregory Bienvenue said he’s going to share his stuffed dog, “I'm going to give him to my baby brother," he says.

“Baxter is pretty cool and he's funny in the wheelchair, and he’s playing with me,” said patient Makenzie Smith.

Umpires from "Umps Care" have hosted 91 children's hospital events like this one since the program began back in 2006.