As the world becomes smaller and the game of baseball grows in popularity, it’s not surprising that umpiring would get more organized and professional. European Baseball is one of those areas that is exhibiting tremendous growth in recent years. Through programs like the Jim Evans European Classic, efforts are being made to standardize and educate umpires who may not have grown up on the game like those of us in America have.
Thanks again to Thomas Heywood for providing three outstanding interviews with six great European umpires as he attended the Classic in April.
We speak with:
Eddie Fannon and Gabor Erdos about baseball and umpiring in England.
Urs Koestinger and Michael Renggli from Switzerland about adjusting the game of baseball for that country.
Mike Michalk and Germo Wittkopf speak about umpiring and baseball in Germany.
More of Thomas’s outstanding photographs can be found here and more of Thomas’s contributions to UmpTalk will be coming soon in a later episode.
If you’ve worked at or near the professional umpiring ranks for any length of time, you’ve come in contact with “Sarge.” Dick Nelson is his real name, but I never knew his real name. I only knew that some guy named “Sarge” was ripping my ass my last week at Jim Evan’s school back in 1993. Every umpire that came before and that followed has had the same experience.
The 79-year old Nelson is an institution for minor league umpires. He is, in many ways, “the” institution. A former supervisor for MLB Umpires and current advisor to the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring, Nelson has trained
or supervised over 70% of umpires working in the Major Leagues today and his influence over the art of umpiring runs as deep as every minor league and amateur baseball field.
It’s not often you get to speak with someone who quite literally “wrote the book,” but Dick Nelson, along with Jim Evans, wrote the book on the 2-man umpiring system.
Thomas Haywood, who will be providing a series of interviews and photographs he gathered during the Jim Evans European Classic this April in Austria. He has spoken to a number of world umpires about differences in the world game vs the US game as well as the similarities of the game across the globe.
But it all starts with Sarge.
Thanks Thomas for chatting with this 45 year veteran of umpiring and sharing it with UmpTalk!
Lance Schoenwald was a 2004 graduate of the Harry Wendelstedt School for Umpires and began a career in professional baseball. But he didn’t stop there. He is now working to help others reach those professional ranks with the Pro Umpire Camp in Shreveport, LA.
We spoke with Lance about his umpiring career, what is important for umpires at the next level as well as finding ways to help those umpires around you.
Lance’s camp has a lengthy list of alums in Independent Baseball, Minor League Baseball as well as high levels of College Baseball. Lance’s focus is on preparing umpires for the next level of umpiring and help with placement in six different leagues.
Editors Note: I apologize for the sound quality of this episode and I managed to cut off the first 3 minutes of the interview. Lance, I’ll happily have you back on the podcast at a later date to do more of our talk at a higher quality level!
Hunter Wendelstedt was going to become a teacher. However, the “family business” had a higher calling for him and he followed in his father’s footsteps. Hunter and Harry Wendelstedt became the first ever father and son duo to umpire a MLB game together in 1998.
On Episode 11 of UmpTalk, we talk with Hunter Wendelstedt about his father who umpired over 4500 professional baseball games. We talk with him about his own 15 year MLB career. We talk about concussions and, of course, we talk about Umpire School and “Safes and Outs.” So rarely do we get an opportunity to hear from the Men in Blue (or Black, or powder blue, but thankfully, no longer red) who work at the highest levels of baseball – listen closely towards the end of the interview when Hunter talks about how he spends every 7th Inning Stretch. Pretty cool stuff. Thanks to the folks at the Wendelstedt School for helping to set up the interview.
Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School Here’s a nice video by MLB on a look inside the Wendelstedt School The incident we spoke about in 2011 where Hunter got a concussion and finished the inning.
Episode 9 is an interview with former Major League Baseball umpire Jim Evans. Jim was a veteran of the MLB Umpiring Corps for 28 years getting his start almost literally off the street and ending up working in four World Series, seven AL Championship Series and numerous All-Star Games.