Professional baseball umpires hold training program for Arizona teens at Chase Field

Several dozen Valley teens may have found a new summer job or even a career as a baseball umpire during training at Chase Field.
Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 7:29 PM MST|Updated: Jan. 17, 2023 at 9:01 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Several dozen Valley teens may have found a new summer job or even a career. They were introduced to life as a baseball umpire, by professional umps, at Chase Field. “There could be a few kids in there that could end up fulfilling a dream of becoming a Major League umpire,” says longtime MLB ump Alfonso Marquez. “It all started out the same way for me.”

Marquez has been living that dream for 30 years. Now, he’s sharing his knowledge and passion with aspiring umps in Arizona. “The percentages [that] you get into the big leagues are low. To me, that’s what makes it a dream,” he says. “But it doesn’t make it impossible.”

“We try to give them as much information as possible so that when they go out there they feel confident in the job that they’re doing and they enjoy it more. Because that’s ultimately the key is enjoying it,” said Bryan Fields, a former professional umpire and now an Umpire Supervisor for Top Choice Officials in Phoenix.

Umps Care Charities put on the clinic. The umpires and former umpires working this clinic know not everyone out here will even stick with calling balls and strikes at the youth level, but that’s OK with them. “Not everybody finds themself that umpire mentality,” says Fields. “But just having [Marquez] speak for a few minutes about keeping an even keel and staying in control, that’s a life skill you can take with you everywhere.”

The training program is also financially supported by the Pedro Gomez Foundation. “Pedro knew everybody in baseball, in the baseball world, including umpires, of course,” says his wife, Sandi Gomez. “When he passed away, my family and I received a lot of support from umpires across the country.”

Marquez called the late ESPN reporter a friend. “Pedro was always in our corner. And he would always come in. He’d always ask, get our point of view, before going on the air and saying something,” he said.

Gomez’s grandfather was an umpire in Cuba. Sandi says this program naturally fit for the foundation, given the family’s love for baseball and another opportunity to help students locally. The Pedro Gomez Foundation also awards several scholarships at Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, and the Arizona Republic. “We’ve lived here a long time,” she says. “This is where we wanted to give back. Just keep it in the Valley.”