We asked this month's spotlight a few questions. Below are his answers.
AR: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
MP: I grew up in West Windsor, N.J., which is right next to Princeton. During my sophomore year, my family moved to
Newtown, Pa., right outside Philadelphia, which is where I still live. I graduated from CUA in 2011 with a B.A. in politics.
I wanted to pursue being a professional baseball umpire and decided to go to Umpire School in January of 2012.
AR: Tell us about your career path. How did you get started? What were some of
your positions along the way?
MP: I started umpiring Little League baseball when I was 14. I had lost interest in playing
the year before and found out that the local Little League in my town had a youth umpire program. Not only would it allow
me to stay connected to my favorite sport, but it was also a job that paid pretty well. As an 8th grader, you can't ask for
much more than that. I worked games at the Little League level for three years and then joined a local high school umpire
chapter and began doing junior high and high school level baseball as a junior in high school. By my senior year, I had
umpired my first varsity baseball game. Throughout college I continued doing high school and recreational baseball (Little
League, Babe Ruth, PONY, etc.). After graduating from CUA, I decided I wanted to explore working as an umpire in
AR: How did you become an umpire in minor league baseball? Was baseball your sport as a student/growing up?
MP: You become a Minor League Baseball umpire by first going to one of two umpire schools. The one I chose was called
"The Umpire School," which is based in Vero Beach, Fla., and runs for four weeks during the months of January every year.
When I went the school was in its first year of operation so I was part of its first graduating class.
Upon graduating, students who finish in the top of the class are invited to what is known as the Evaluation Course. At the Evaluation Course, the top students from each of the two umpire schools compete for job openings in lower levels of the
minor leagues. The Evaluation Course is run and supervised by the current Minor League Baseball umpire supervisors. These supervisors make up what is called the Professional Baseball Umpire Corp. (PBUC). All Minor League Baseball umpires are members of PBUC.
Baseball was always my favorite sport growing up as a kid. It was my favorite sport to play, watch, and follow.
AR: How did you learn all there was to learn about baseball rules?
MP: You pick up on learning the rules as just being a casual fan. But when I started to umpire Little League when I was 14
was when I really began to interpret the rules and really study them. Then when I went to umpire school in 2012, we broke
down and studied every single rule in the book and also accompanying interpretations on those rules. As rules are added
and changed at the professional level each year, we as umpires have to constantly study up on them.
AR: What are some challenges you face daily in your job? What do you enjoy the most?
MP: The biggest challenge would definitely be the time away from family and friends for such a long period of time. Since
the baseball season occurs during the spring and summer months, I miss out on a lot of family events, vacations, and the opportunity to get together with friends from CUA. However, I also enjoy the travel aspect that comes with the job. A great
benefit is being able to travel and see some cool cities throughout the country that I otherwise wouldn't go to at my leisure.
This season I am working with one of my best friends and being able to work and travel with him is truly a blessing.
AR: Do people scream at you? How do you handle that?
MP: We as umpires get yelled at quite often. Whether its getting heckled by fans in the stands over a bad call or by the
players and coaches on the field. More often than not, the players and coaches from both teams are pretty respectful and
don't really scream and yell at us often. Occasionally though, sometimes somebody loses their cool and we have to remain
calm and do our best to calm them down. If they do something or say something that warrants them being ejected, then we
will do it. We as umpires don't ever look to eject someone, but if the situation calls for it, then we have to handle our
business and take care of it.
AR: What is a typical day at work like for you?
MP: Before a series, we will meet with the general manager of the home team to go over the upcoming series and go over
game times and find out any other information we should know. In general, we will typically show up to the ballpark about
an hour to an hour and a half before the game. One our duties is to rub up the baseballs for the game that night. For a
typical game we usually rub up between five and eight dozen baseballs, depending on how many the home team gives us
to rub. After we rub up the baseballs, we usually have a little time to relax before game time and my crewmate and I will
usually play some cards. Then we get dressed and walk out on the field and work the game. Unless we have an ejection
or another situation during the game that requires us to file a report with the league office that night, after the game our
job is done. We'll clean up, get something to eat, and relax the rest of the night.
AR: What is the most interesting event or person that you have come across in your line of work?
MP: There is no single person that comes to mind that I would describe as the most interesting. But all the people I've
met along this journey thus far have impacted me one way or another. From all those guys I met at umpire school, to
the different partners I've had in my three seasons, to the Major League umpires I've had the privilege of meeting, and
all the friends I've made so far, each person I've met through umpiring has had some type of influence on me.
AR: When you are not working as an umpire, what do you like to do?
MP: I like to play golf, travel, and spend as much time with family and friends as possible. In the off-season, I also
referee high school basketball. It's a great way to make some extra money but it also helps me stay in shape and
continue to officiate.
AR: How did Catholic University prepare you for your current career? Any specific courses that you took or experiences you had while a student?
MP: CUA really helped me mature as a person and in my faith. I learned how to turn to my faith whenever I needed to.
Life on the road can be a struggle and can be lonely at times, but being able to rely on my faith to help me get through
the tough times is a great thing. Whether it's having a rough stretch of games or dealing with being away from home,
being able to turn to God in those times of struggle is very beneficial.
Most of the courses that I took at CUA, whether it be in politics, philosophy, or sociology, taught me how to be a better
writer. A crucial part of being an umpire is filing reports. Whether it is an ejection or another post game report, writing
those well is an important part of being an umpire.
AR: Were there any specific faculty members who mentored you?
MP: One of the biggest supporters on campus of becoming an umpire was the provost, Dr. Brennan. He thought it
was so cool that I wanted to pursue my dream. He admired me for that because not everyone gets the opportunity to
get into a career doing something they truly love. He was happy for me to be able to do that.
AR: What clubs and organizations were you a part of, if any? How did they prepare you?
MP: I was a member of the Student Association General Assembly (SAGA) eventually becoming chairman of the
Committee on Academic Affairs my senior year. During my time on SAGA, I was liaison to the Academic Senate
and also served as the undergraduate representative to the Steering Committee on the University's reaccreditation in
2010. Being on the Academic Senate and the Steering Committee really taught me how to work and interact in a
professional environment, which is definitely beneficial being a professional umpire.
AR: Do you keep in touch with any faculty, friends or classmates from CUA? If so, how? Who in particular?
MP: I still keep in touch with many friends from CUA. Some of my old roommates and I play in a fantasy football league
every year. I have a couple of friends who now work at CUA and every time I'm in D.C. I always make an effort to get
back to campus. Some CUA friends have even come out to see some games of mine if I'm ever in their area and it's
always great to have friendly faces in the stands. A few people are trying to organize a road trip this summer to come
visit me and watch some games, which I'm very excited for.
AR: What is one of your favorite memories of your time at Catholic University?
MP: I have so many great memories from my time at CUA. From the Pope's visit freshman year, to "Snowpacalypse"
junior year, and Senior Week, its hard to pick out one single favorite memory. But I was so blessed to be with great
friends at those events, and many more. That's what makes those memories so special. Great times are spent with
great people, and I can truly say that if it weren't for the friends I shared those times with, they wouldn't have been as great.