Baseball and Education: The Umps!

March 24, 2012

“Getting a big-league job is like hitting the lottery, that’s how hard it is.”
-Mike Estabrook, MLB Umpire

When we customized our online degree program for minor league players, I knew we had to offer this same program to the minor league umpires. This past week, I went to both Arizona and Florida to present to the Professional Baseball Umpire Corp. From the very beginning, PBUC Executive Director Justin Klemm, wanted to help his umpires get their college degree. And I’m glad because I am a big fan of both umpires and education.

Economist, Dr. J.C. Bradbury conducted a data analysis on umpire careers. He explained the challenge. “At low levels there are umpires covering games for over 200 teams, all vying for slots in the 30-team major league. Not only must you suffer through many years of low pay, but there exists the possibility that even if you excel and do everything right, there won’t be a spot for you when you rise to the top” (

While minor league players and umpires have their similarities, there are also big differences. reporter, Jim Caple, compared the path of players and umpires, “A good player prospect can skip several minor league levels. Many do. But umpires cannot. They MUST ump at each minor league level, which generally means your looking at eight years to reach the majors. Caple summed up, “You can graduate from college and medical school in that time.”

I was really impressed by the umpires that I spoke to. They are a very respectful and motivated group. One umpire shared that his interest in Northeastern was because he just liked learning. Half of the umpires I spoke to wanted to finish their college degree and the other half wanted to start a Master’s. The College of Professional Studies provides both options.

Eight years in pursuit of a dream is a long time. But I believe, with all that I am, that dreams are worth pursuing. But as we follow our dreams, we can also prepare for our journey. Our customized online degree program allows umpires to pursue their baseball dreams and get their education.

And that really is the best of both worlds.

-To read more about Justine’s journey through spring training, visit