All things umpire from a 30+ years retired umpire Dale Scott
Welcome to The Baseball Awakening Podcast, where we dive into the raw, unfiltered, unsexy side of player development.
Dale Scott is a retired MLB umpire. He retired after suffering a severe concussion during the 2017 season. Dale has great stories and great inside from the game of baseball from a different perspective.
On this episode, Host Geoff Rottmayer sits down with Dale Scott of, where we discuss all things umpire.
In Part 1 of this Conversation Dale talks about:
- His story and path to becoming an umpire.
- How umpire school was and the process of the process of the school.
- What it was like being chosen to be a professional umpire.
- The joruney through the minor league as an umpire.
- Some of the toughest things going from professional rank vs. high school college ranks.
- How the game got faster as he advance.
- The tough part about behing behind the plate vs other positions.
- How to umpire pitchers that are wild and ineffective.
- Amd many more.
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Geoff: On today’s show, we talk with Dale Scott, a former major league baseball umpire of over 30 years, and we talk all things empire.
Intro: Welcome to another episode of The Baseball Awakening Podcast where we dive into the raw, unfiltered, unsexy side of player development. Get ready for some knowledge bombs with your host, Geoff Rottmayer
Geoff: Welcome. to The Baseball Awakening Podcast I am Geoff Rottmayer Today we sit down with Dale Scott, a former major league umpire. Over 30 years. Dale appeared in over or under 3,900 gamers world appearing in the world theory than 98 to 2004 in the all star game in [inaudible]. Ninety three, 2001 in 2011. Dale, I’m excited to have you here. How are you, sir?
Dale: I’m doing well. Thank you.
Geoff: Dale. Uh, the guy that meant 30 years, 30 plus years, the major league level as an umpire. You have seen the game from a different perspective. One that I’m excited to learn about today, but can we just kind of start with a little bit about your background in baseball and then how you got into umpiring?
Dale: Sure. Thanks for having me on it. You know, I was a huge baseball fan as a kid. I grew up in Eugene, Oregon. And uh, at that time, of course there was no seattle mariners, so I wouldn’t say la dodger fan. And the reason for that was my grandfather lived in La and uh, the first, uh, basically game I ever saw a was a dodger stadium in 1973. And so I, I was, you know, loved baseball and I played every year that I started. I don’t know, it was fourth grade or something, but, but, uh, you know, I, I, I thought for sure that I was going to grow up and be the first baseman for the dodgers. There was no problem with that. But, uh, I did encounter a few problems. The fact that I couldn’t see old hit, run or throw in that was probably curtailed by my baseball playing days. I, uh, well I think the last year I played was when I was 14. I was going into high school and of course in high school you either varsity or I wasn’t going to make either one of those teams at the time that I went to high school is only a three year high school and we didn’t have freshman baseball. So, you know, I, I have a 15 years old and you know, I love the game and I just wanted to stay involved if I could. But uh, uh, at that age you’re really kind of too young to be coaching and I wouldn’t have made a very good coach anyway, I don’t think. But I have a friend of mine had said that he unfired uh, the summer before and he, uh, suggested that maybe I looked that. And so I thought, you know, I, I watched the empires a lot, what I, when I played baseball because I was on the bench a lot and I know that might be a, it might be something to look into. So I, I, I, uh, check it out, started umpiring at 15 and really enjoyed that. I enjoy the challenge. I enjoy the fact that everyday was different. And um, and I kind of excelled at it and so I’m at a different friend that had gone to umpire school a few years prior and he said, you know, you should really look into going into umpire school. He said, I, you know, obviously that’s the only way you can get into professional baseball is to go to the one of the two umpire schools. But, uh, there’s quite a few people that go just to learn about empowerment to become a better empire and they go back to their communities and their associations and, and, uh, you know, move up and maybe work, uh, you know, college and then that type of stuff. Uh, just learning from the, uh, from the guys that know it best. And so I thought that’s a great idea. I’d love to do that. And so when I was 21, I went to school and I finished fifth in my class to the wind week advanced school where I finished in the top 10 somewhere. They didn’t actually run the numbers, but we knew that there were actually 13 slots that would be going to a minor league spring training. And so those will be the top 13 guys, uh, of the advanced school. So I got one of those slots and I went to a minor league spring training and, and, and as a career was, uh, was started. That was in 1981.
Geoff: You were in the class. What does that mean? What does, what does that entail?
Dale: Well, at the time that I went to umpire school, there were two schools. The one of the schools had two schools in themselves and otherwise they had a school in San Bernardino, California. And then right after that school ended they had a school in Sarasota, Florida. So, uh, the, I went to the San Bernardino School in California and that school actually only lasted a couple more years after that because of low attendance. The Florida schools usually got about a hundred, 125 guys in San Bernardino School that your head 27. So I was, I was just out at. So a pretty stiff in the class. That sounds very impressive. There’s only 27 students, but the key to that though was the top five of the San Bernardino school would be sent to the advanced school. So I just made that and that, that was, that’s a big deal to be able to go to the advanced school because, uh, the top, what it basically is, is a top 50 students from now, the two schools in Florida go to this advanced school. And so that’s, that’s the first barrier, first line, first goal that you to make a up by schools to be in that group to go to the advanced school
Geoff: and what’s the difference obviously, but what’s the difference from that class that you went to, to the advanced, the advanced class?
Dale: Well, first of all, you have the most potential as far as are concerned would put you in that position. Um, and it gives a shit. No one wants to go to the advanced school. And now you’re being observed by a, the people that run a minor league baseball. You also been observed by a major league umpire supervisors. So your first real time that you’re getting your, uh, your, your name out there and, and just see me on the radar, so to speak. Uh, and also, uh, in the advanced school, that’s when they assign after that school’s over, the might relate to a prior supervisors assign you to whatever openings there are in minor league baseball that year. That could vary, uh, every year as far as that goes because, uh, uh, there’s a, you know, some, some years there’s more people that are guys that are released over the minor leagues. Some years it might be more than others. Also a fires that decided to get out of and that kind of stuff. So if you get into the advanced school, do well and now they assign you into, uh, the lower minor leagues. Um, you know, that’s again, another, another goal that you want to want to make and get yourself into the, into the system. And then he has worked your way through that system.
Geoff: Can you talk about school? What all did you guys do during school? Obviously you’re, you’re learning the rules, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Most people don’t. Don’t realize
Dale: more to, to umpiring the intricacies of the profession. Obviously rules are a huge part of it. Has got to know the rule book and every empire school, which lasts about four and a half weeks, a typical data apply to schools. You start off in the morning probably eight or 9:00 and you devote about two hours or so into the rule book and every rule is discussed and, and picked apart and, and you know, to help understand rules, to help, to understand why a rule was in, you have to understand the, the genesis of that rule, the history of the white who in most cases you know, the rules in there because something happened that we needed to make a rule about it. And, and so, uh, it helps you understand the reasoning for a rule when you understand the history of it and how it, how it came about. And so it’s not just so here thing isn’t real. Here’s a real. And here’s a real. It’s, it’s, it’s actually breaking it down. And understanding exactly why and how it’s enforced, enforced and those of things. And there’s a, you’re constantly being quizzed on, on, on the sessions that you’ve, you know, that you’ve already been through and, and that type of stuff as the school goes on. Then after the classroom in the morning break for the sealed, uh, the empire schools have numerous squeals and batting cages. The batting cages are setup with pitching machines. And you go in there and you call pitches. He called pictures for a right handed hitter and a left handed hitter and all the intricacies of, of, of your plate work in your stance and your feet and your positioning, your head heights and following the ball and tracking the ball with your eyes and, and all the, all the things that go into that, on the, on the, on the, uh, regular field because they have a, you’re working in the system. So to say, the two man system played up higher based on the rest of the students are the quote unquote players. And you, you, uh, uh, you know, rotate in and out, but you set up the place. I’ll have a fungo hitter and, uh, set setup runner, you know, lender situation where I was the first and third two out, so that runners first and second one out, you know, and in a double play ball, hit a single to right into a ball down the line or whatever and the empires that are working that rotation and have to, you know, as you are taught, obviously you have to uh, work through rotation who has responsibility for the ball, who’s rotating, you know, and then of course you have calls, slide plays, force plays, you have to work on your time and your positioning. You’re making sure you’re, uh, stopped for the play and their head’s not moving. It’s just a checklist of things as you’re taught throughout the, uh, the four and a half weeks of how to take the play and how they call a play and, and those types of things. So it’s pretty intensive. A four and a half weeks. It’s six days a week. You get Sundays off usually and um, and it’s eight to 10 hours a day that you are working. And so, uh, I mean I started working outside of school, but by the time evening came and went to do some rule book study or whatever you were, you were exhausted by just so much, uh, mentally and physically going on, uh, throughout, uh, uh, a normal day at umpire school. But it was, it was a, with a lot of fun. It was done by. And I thought I, I thought I was know, I thought it was a pretty good umpire and I, I realized that, you know, you know, no, I wasn’t so much to learn that your position, footwork stuff that I never even thought of. Nor was I taught a lower level.
Geoff: Yeah, that does sound like you guys are going through that process. They are grading everything and that’s how they go on to pick who gets to go through. So what, what are the themes that they are grading,
Dale: uh, until, until they, you know, they put the class, the graduating order, you are being evaluated. And that means not just your rules, tasks and access work with the cages or work on the field. But there are also instructors also observing your demeanor, your personality, how you react to things, how you wrapped your criticism, that construction crews, how you react to, you know, part of it, part of the deal. And when you’re doing this stuff out in the field, you have a certain structures that are going to be acting like managers and they’re going to come out and they’re going to argue a play it anyway. They want to see how you react to that. Do you, are you call them, are you, uh, you know, a reject the guy when you’re supposed to do not eject him or when you fit half a, you know, and, and the whole demeanor of things. Uh, and that all plays into a part in evaluating a student, an umpire school, because again, is much more. I mean, it’s intensive enough to the ball strike, safe out Sarah fell. But I’m also demeanor and how you carry yourself and how you, how you, uh, how you diffuse hopefully, uh, situations and not throw gas on the fire and all those types of things. Another good one is just, you know, if you have an argument, a, an umpire school, got a plate to, does that affect you? The next three plays on your mind as you’re trying to, you know, because you can’t do that. I missed a call and say I missed the call. Guess what I got? I got another one coming up real quick so I got to put that aside and, and, and, and move on. I can deal with that. Ms Dot Hall after the game by talking to my partner to find a video watching all that stuff, but I can’t dwell on it at the time because guess what, it’s just like a short, stocky, but he makes an error on a double play ball. You can’t dwell on it now. He just mentally you have to shut that out and a departmentalized so much.
Geoff: What is that like, you know, you’re saying to yourself, wow, you know, am I really going to go do this? This is my third game, you know, can, can you kind of talk about, you know, what, that, what the emotion was like, what, what was that moment like for you?
Dale: Some of the highlights of my career and I have many when I was in the major leagues, but some of the highlights of my career was just that that day and I’m tired of school when I found out that I was in a 15 class and I was going to go to the advanced school day, that after he was told that I was a high enough rank tonight after you get a minor league spring training, those are big hurdles to get over just as a, uh, a percentage that they figured, I don’t know how accurate this is, but it’s, you know, give or take. It’s about one percent of the total class of all the schools. Uh, we’ll make it to the big leagues. So it’s just a very small amount because there’s just not a lot of openings and, and, and, uh, and that type of stuff. But, um, my first bioware game was in Bandon, Oregon and the Northwest League. And, uh, I was nervous, oh, this was it, this was, this is a new show for being end. Uh, and uh, but, you know, a lot of times, um, in my whole career when I had big games are big series or whatever is, you know, the buildup to it almost always as worried as is or, uh, a more butterflies. All that stuff is almost always worse when it gets started, when you get, when the game starts, you’re doing what you’ve been trained to do and what we’ve been doing for years. But it’s the buildup to that often plays on you a little bit mentally. And that’s certainly what happened before my first game. And then of course, the next day, my first game behind the plate, uh, in the northwest league. But, um, you know, at that level you’re getting, you’re getting a rookie players, you’re getting rookie players either from a straight from high school or from college. I’m gonna get a lot of, uh, a Dominican and Puerto Rican and Latino players. A lot. Many of them don’t speak English, many of them have never been as United States. Um, and it’s all a new experience for them too, and you’re both sides of the players are learning not only how to play for their organization and the fundamentals that they wanted and, and those types of things, but they’re learning what they can and cannot say don’t when, how they, how to argue, how to, a lot of times, quite frankly, the managers, although they’re a, they’ve been around baseball longer obviously, but it’s all learning experience for them just as it is for us. We’re, we’re, you know, we’ve been trained as Umpires, but now we’re learning to, in real time and real life how to handle situations and how to, you know, there’s, there’s numerous times that I would handle somebody that had in it and it blew up in my face. I tell them, okay, note to self, I’m not going to do that again. Uh, so it’s, uh, it’s a, it’s a, it’s such a learning experience as you start off a professional baseball, even though you know, players have played for years and I, I had empires for several years. It’s still like you’re still kind of started brand new again,
Geoff: being behind the plate would be the toughest position. Would you. Would you agree with that when you, when you first got to pro ball with, with the guys smarter and everything
Dale: you. I was, you know, when you first northwest, I was now dealing with pitchers that through harder and faster than I than I had experienced at the high school and college level. They had more, a more, a way of pitches. Just wasn’t fastball and curve ball. I mean there’s two sides of sliders, sliders on slow and blah blah, blah, blah. All these things. And so, you know, as an umpire you’re not thinking, oh gosh, I’ve been just going to throw out, you know, like a hit or miss, you know, I think he just gonna come back at me with a fastball or whatever and people ask me what you don’t know. I don’t think that way because I’m not trying to hit the ball. I’m trying to. I’m trying to judge the pitch as to what it is. So if I, if I start guessing pitches, what he’s going to throw and he, you know, I think probably throw a curve ball here and he throws a fastball and I’m not ready for it and that is, that doesn’t even enter my mind was what is going to throw what it is my mind is, how whatever he throws, I’m going to track that. And I was, I was obviously getting pictures that, that were much more skilled than I used to working. That being said, you’re also giving pictures that are still refining their own skills. Guys that throw real hard but a real wild, you know, or uh, uh, and, and, or William inconsistent with the breaking breaking balls or whatever. And so again, it’s just a, it’s, it’s everybody is trying to fine tune and get better at what they do. Uh, but you now do it on a. granted, it’s a lower minor leagues. There’s still a bunch of bigger stages than you’ve been on.
Geoff: Yeah. So when you’re first starting out, I would think that’d be very challenging. Or are the wilder guide or they prefer to call?
Dale: Well, it’s tougher for everyone and the reason being is, you know, a guy is thrown all over the place. He’s, he just can’t hit his spots and he, he’s all over the place now as an umpire. Uh, my thoughts are just one pitch at a time, just take it one at a time just because just through six pitches in a row that, that were all over the place, that next one, wasn’t he that good outside quarter, you know, strike and, and, and, and, and can’t be thinking. Well, he’s been wild. Is Excellent. I mean, you have to be ready to call the strike if he actually gets one in there. That being said, if a guy’s real wild and he’s all over the place and now he throws one close, but it’s still on strike. But it’s the closest thing is thrown everybody’s and ball and everybody’s, oh my God. And it’s like, okay, you know, even that pitch was pretty good and it was the closest thing he’s thrown. It’s still not there, you know, so you, you, you, you, uh, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s just, uh, you know, when a guy’s wild, it’s difficult for everybody because for the hitter, you know, he’s not sure what’s going to happen and he’s also thinking I might, I did not intentionally, but just because the guy has no control, you know, the catcher is trying to block everything and if there’s runners on, he’s, you know, he doesn’t want them to advance and all that. So it’s just a fixed life a lot more difficult bit where everybody, obviously, anytime I’ve been asked, well, who’s your favorite pitcher? And my answer usually is anyone that throw strikes a guide is consistently around the plate. It makes my life a lot easier. Why? Because first of all, he’s throwing strikes. So now that’s also hit as well. He’s throwing strikes, we’ve got to start slinging and it’s the hitters were swinging and guess what? I don’t have to make a decision. And so, uh, uh, you know, that’s, I don’t care if he’s a rookie pitcher has never been in the big leagues or the minor leagues or, or a or a better and it’s not, if they’re not on that day, if they’re not around the plate and, and consistently you’ve got to go in and it’s going to be a liaison more difficult day. And if they are on a is going to be a easier day. It’s never easy but an easier day than in somebody that’s not hitting their spots
Geoff: when you first got there through your career. But I want to talk more about when you first started, the very first time you saw that really hard slider or for you, what was the top pitch for you when you first got started in pro ball? You know, where, where you’re just sitting there going, Geez, that pitch gets me just about every time. Or was there a pit like that?
Dale: Well, no, I’ve never seen a low to mid nineties. At first few times I saw that, you know, that was like wow, he’s bringing it but that. But that’s actually easier. And usually then the guy that has a real good breaking ball as real hard slider a, you know, a good, a good curve ball and you know, don’t even get me started on a knuckle ball. Those are tougher because first of all, when I first started out, I wasn’t used to seeing movement on a pitch that at some of these guys had compared to what I had been working. And that really taught you as an umpire you up. They’re always taught as an empire. One of the most important things you can do as an umpire is called timing and exactly what it sounds like. Time, take your time. Do not call pitches or plays too early.
Dale: Do not be calling them too fast. Take your time, watch the pitch with the, you know, the ball. Hit the catcher’s glove. So it’s that half second and then meant to make a decision at the plate area. But then you made the call and if you slow up, does it have less chance of missing a pitch? I’ve had numerous times in my career where as the pitch comes in, in my mind that that extra half second or whatever it is, the timing, uh, I realized that bowl as it grows and it was just low or whatever, and I came close to colonists, right? But I bought it because of my timing and I got it right. And, and, and if, you know, one of the first things you do as an umpire, especially mine anywhere is if you’re struggling back there on pitches in my column, them too fast. What’s my tiny slow down? And so when, when you first start out and you see these, these, these, uh, uh, pitches at, quite frankly, I’ve never seen before pitches that, that had so much movement on it. And the most important thing I could do is slow down, but a pitch completely over and, and, and then make a signal your call at a strike or whatever have you. And if you got a much better shot of registering, what exactly happened? If you did that, if I started calling pitches to too quickly and you have a tendency to do that because the ball’s moving it, you know, that is arrogance again, if your adrenaline is going and so one of the most important things I am and not only when I started the minor league career was to go had nice and slow timing and that’s probably one of the that that angle and distance, uh, uh, as far as calling plays or just a are the keys to being a decent amount,
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Geoff: Interesting. So when you say angle and distance, what does that mean?
Dale: Well, of course, when you first start out, you just, it a lot of stuff. Um, and so you can’t always be close to a play. Uh, so the most important thing for an empire is your angle that you just, you can be real close to a play, but if your angles off, if you have a bad angle, you know you don’t see the play. But I’ve got a great angle. I got a great shot. I get that plate right. So angle and distance are our angles always first before distance. Now as you’ve worked up and you start working three man, and of course forman, your distance a lot of times is always going to be there because you just work in that base or whatever. There are times when there’s rotations and those types of things where a, that’ll be a little bit different or multiple writers on particles out or whatever. But for the most cases as you move up and have more players on the field, your distance isn’t as much of a factor. Your angle is always a factor you always want to have that ain’t go on whatever plays developing. So you have the highest percentage of seeing the plane getting a road. Yeah, I mean in the minor leagues, in the Minor Leagues, you, your supervisors that travel throughout the country and, and, uh, evaluate the gunpowder, say they are not sure looking back on the ice ages, the early eighties and it was a, it was a little bit of a different system failing, failing, which is incredible to think about, but they only had two minor league supervisors, so to cover the entire United States and all the minor league. So, um, one gentleman that Dick Nelson, uh, basically covered all the minor leagues west of the Mississippi. Well that’s a lot of territory to cover in a, you know, five months, uh, you know, and to see all these empires, well, uh, so we wouldn’t be seen only twice a year back then. Now it’s different now because there’s more supervisors, so they’re going to be seen more. But yes, we are evaluated, uh, with uh, the uh, uh, the supervisors were there in some cities that have what they call observers, a, they’re not actually our supervisors, but there’s somebody that maybe has a part in dental ground or, or, or, you know, just they observed games, they write reports, they don’t comment necessarily on a judgment and, and, and, uh, mechanics so much as they come and on demeanor and how they handle situations and, and you know, perception perception is reality. A lot of people, I could be a, you know, I always give the story to, if you’re sitting down on a, on an airline a year on a united airlines flight and in walks the pilot and he was wearing a white shirt with a hat and some sunglasses and go, hey folks, I’m your pilot name. He’s going to be the best pilot that I’ve ever had, but your perception is who is this group? And I’m getting off the plane. I’m. So again, I’m fine. Perception, you know, that’s why you always want to hustle. That’s where I always want. I always tell guys, you work every game, like there’s a supervisor in the stands, the majority games, there’s not direct like there is every time because it’s how you should go out there. And so yes, you are observed my lesson. Google is every call that you make, every pitch that you call is, uh, is great. It’s so, yes, we’re under intense scrutiny.
Geoff: Do they share that report with you so that you can kind of see where you stand?
Dale: Sure, sure. Well, what they do is you get a, you get a, a in all the lakes except the short, the short lax and starting in June, they only run from June til Labor Day, but in the full leagues from April until Labor Day, uh, uh, you get a midseason report and then you get a year end report and those are written up by the supervisors and they consist of the Games that they actually cite your work. And then also information from observers. Uh, and uh, you know, they’ll, they’ll, uh, typically especially like that. Well, it’s mixed is a report and it says, you know, you’re doing good at this, blah, blah, blah, you know, it’s a form and they may have comments and stuff, but, uh, work on, uh, you know, uh, your positioning on kick offs at first with a runner on, you’re not getting the angle you should move up toward the 45 foot line, not toward the day, I mean, intricacy things, but it gives you an idea of what are your deficiencies are according to them and, and, uh, it, you know, these were things that I need to improve on but I need to work on, uh, and, and that information, you know, those in your file and add information is what determines if you’re going to move up the next year or maybe go back to that leak the next year or a ultimately, if it’s, if it’s, uh, something that has just not been, you know, been reported on but not improved, uh, they may release you also, um, you know, and all of that is, uh, is, is part of the whole system is, is, is, you know, being evaluated and scrutinized.
Geoff: Do you guys have my practice or is it all just kind of on the job training?
Dale: Well, there aren’t classes so to speak. I mean, these are things that, uh, that, you know, you need to try to improve in real time. Basically. It’s not like you can go to a weekend seminar and, and pick up on how to do this or whatever. Now the prospects, uh, in the lower, uh, might elise will after the season’s over, we’ll be, we’ll go to, uh, uh, instructional league and again, if, if you’re chosen to go to instructionally, that’s a good thing is, is because, uh, you know, of all the suicide, safe, older, single a empires and uh, I don’t know the actual numbers, but all the senior layout, maybe Aa Empires, uh, um, there are out of the 16 weeks or something, I’m not sure the number, but whatever it is, the supervisor will determine who they seem to top prospects and it needs, you know, league or whatever it and, and they will send them to instructional. Yeah, that’s a good thing. I went to instructional league, uh, after my second year on the cal baseball, I was in the California League. I went to instructionally and then after my third year I was in Aa and in the Texas league and I went to instructionally, I learned, especially about six weeks, uh, from, uh, basically, uh, approximately mid September and so halloween and it a, I learned so much in those two instructionally. So I went to a really helped my career. And the reason why is just because now it’s a, at that time, I think there was eight of us, Arizona because they had to admit the instruction in Florida and Arizona and it was like eight of us that you had a lot of one on one individually with the supervisor. Uh, uh, you know, uh, uh, instruction and, and, and were observed a lot more than obviously way more than you were during the season. And so that, that really helped you fine tune things and, and, and, and learn more how to handle things and how to do things. And so, uh, those are all very important steps in your, in your career as you move up through the minor leagues.
Geoff: Nice. And when you were going through, you know, up through the minor leagues, is there a vast difference between stay low a AA and aaa?
Dale: One of the biggest differences is when I went from the California long a league to Aa, every major league team has several able and rookie league teams, but they all have just one Aa and AAA team. So why should it to Aa, you are dealing with you, you, you’ve, you’ve, uh, you’ve eliminated a lot of players. Quite frankly I think the players that get to aa or are just better than, than what you’ve been working in the obvious changes to me when I went to Aa was the speed of the game faster. They were, they covered more ground, they hit the ball harder, they throw the ball more consistently. And, and it just was a, you know, when I went to the Northwest League to the Cali, I didn’t see a huge difference. I saw a big difference when I got to Aa and, and that was a, that’s where you’re really, the cream is now rising to the top, so to speak, and you’re, and you could stand. It’s very noticeable.
Geoff: Nice. What’s it like when you got the call that says, Hey, you’re going to the.
Dale: Uh, it was, it was a wonderful, quite frankly it was surprising. And the reason I say that is in 1986, I was working in American league spring training and they remember that until the year 2000, uh, the American league has a nationally had their own empire staffs. You didn’t do either one or the other. You didn’t, he didn’t work the other week since 2000. It’s now major league baseball umpire just another part of the major league. So I work all 30 teams, but back then, uh, either the American league was interested in you or the nationally. If they were, they would, it would. You’re in aaa, they see you. And they are, they’re interested. They would do what they call a. They would buy your option. Am I buying your option? What that meant was now, like the American League bought my option the first year I went to aaa, so that what that meant was the nationally cannot, cannot steal me, so to speak. Now, now I’m an American league prospect. Uh, the good part about that is I was an American prospect. I was a prospect for one of the big leagues. The bad part is a, there’s two at that time, you know, no park, you go to big league staffs and now it was, I’m pigeon holed into one and the other one it’s not like I can, they can, you know, save the American league is going to get the on. And I don’t have any say as nationally has no say on me. So anyways, the, the option is bought. I was working in American league spring training in [inaudible] 85, [inaudible] 86. And in [inaudible] 86, there were two openings on the American league staff. There were, had to retire, but there were basically four empire is trying to get those two spots. Uh, and I was fourth of those four. I had only worked one major league game in my career or the year before, uh, I filled in for one game. It was a makeup game in Kansas City and I worked third base. That’s the only game at work. The guy above me who was third, what worked about 39 games the year before. So it in for two guys, the two guys that were above us had worked something like 60 games at 100 games or something. So, you know, I worked in one game. I definitely was fourth on this pecking order. Well, the were two slots open and on the staff, uh, I just figured, you know, the top two guys will go, uh, I will move up in this pecking order, which means I will get more games is coming a 1986 season. The philly that for, for guys that are hurt or sick or have to, you don’t have a wedding to go to or whatever. And uh, and that’ll be obviously a good thing for my career as I, as I get more exposure. I was getting ready for a, for a gay, now has a plate in Sarasota with the white sox on April first, April fool’s day. Important. Get no cell phones or anything back then. And, and, and uh, the clubhouse attendant came to me. It was about 20 minutes before that. It was a start and said that you have a phone call, you can take it a, so silicon. That’s weird. So I, I get on the phone, it’s Dick Butler, who was the head of the American league on piracy. He, uh, he was actually, that was one of his last acts as the head of the umpire because that year started is when Marty’s streets that started his tenure was cal. But, um, uh, it was Dick Butler and he said, uh, uh, I just want you to talk a little slow southern Texas talk real slow day. Ella, uh, hope you have your simple lead in your plate today to keep you on the ground. I said, I sort of, I, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll look into that. Why is that? He goes, well, because as of today, you are down with member of the American league staff. Well, I didn’t see that gun. I, I, you know, like I said, I thought I thought I wouldn’t get one of the sessions, but I certainly would move up in the secondary. Well, I really was thrilled. I was beyond thrilled. I was, uh, you know, it was just a, you know, from the day that you went to umpire school, uh, you hopes and dreams that maybe the state would come knowing there was a ton of obstacles between, uh, that umpire school day and that big day. So I was, uh, I was excited and uh, it was one of the, one of the highlights of my career for sure.
Geoff: Been there a long time. And now you’re working with them, learning from them. Did they kind of take you in, you know, talk a little bit about what it’s like being a rookie empire?
Dale: Well, every time they turn into big fish, small fish again or whatever it’d be because now you’re new to the league and you’re the guy and it’s the same thing in the big leagues. Now, a lot of how quote unquote good you were in the minor leagues and, and prove that you are worthy of being players. Manager isn’t a. But more importantly for your peers. I mean like, you know, I was suddenly, I’m based off zero names that I’d heard for years. People that I looked up to, people that, uh, that were outstanding, their own reputations. And it’s, we’re, we’re, uh, looking out for each other. It’s, you know, when, when you go to a game, there’s actually three teams, four man crew. Um, it, it’s, you know, it’s my part play a third. We’ve all been asked to play because, you know, you know, if you could. First of all, I could have just been me and it has been many times, but also is because, you know, you’re the only for that’s got the, got each other’s back. Nobody else cares and a fancy luxury or call a one time. And then the next time it goes against him, so he thinks he’s going to step out of the website and it just gets, you know, fans don’t play into our senior at all because it’s just, that’s the least of your problems that you have to dugouts the two teams is you have to deal with and that’s, that’s your priority in working in a game. And so yeah, they take you where today they, they, they help you to not only, not only just by observing you and then we own the lock of, Hey, you know, you took that play at sex, you might want to try this or do this or whatever, but also to help help you translate. These are all new locker rooms, new new stadiums, players and oh by the way, don’t miss a pitch and don’t ways. So you got all this going on. So yes, uh, it’s uh, it’s exciting and it’s what you are striving to do is you get into professional baseball, but it’s also the unknown. Like I know it. And quite frankly, you know, to do, what do I do? Those kind of basing better. That’s a disappointment.
Geoff: What’s the typical day for an. Looks like
Dale: a little bit different. We have some guys had to get up early if we have guys to sleep in and uh, you know, after games we have guys that go out and unwind and, and, and have a few beers and, you know, are night owls, maybe watch a movie or something at the hotel. And so, you know, it’s four in the morning, shut it down. We shut it down early. So you have that individuality going back. For me, a typical day was uh, uh, it, it, it changed me. I first got and stuff. I wasn’t going to slept in a lot. And uh, uh, as a career went on, I usually around 9:00 and had a little breakfast. I would go on an hour walk or so that I would sometimes take a power nap in the afternoon that we have solidified. Usually leave a few more about, uh, about 5:36, 30 quarter to six. So it depends on where we’re at, what was the ballpark. They’re anywhere from five to 5:15, whatever the situation may be. But, um, you know, unlike, for example, college football especially, they were, you know, uh, you know, they’re, they’re, they’re typically having a pregame frankly, the two team we worked every day together we work on because if there’s a situation or a certain picture with a certain moves, the first or whatever that, that encounter, we might talk about that. But otherwise guys will get to the ballpark and a lot of crews, we’ll play cards, you know, no, it just all depends on the guys on the crew and that kind of stuff. And uh, and then you just get mentally prepared for your game that evening and then you go. But every, some guys, some guys on two or three times a week, they’ll play golf or go play 18 holes. And um, you know, some, some crews will have lunch together everyday or, or practically everyday. Go to the ballpark. It just, it just depends. Mom,
Geoff: Right, so what was an off-season like?
Dale: I was working in the big leagues off season with Legit, again, the minor leagues, you’re only paid four times. You work when he was still around. They take your salary and divide it by 12. So you’re getting checks, uh, a source of the month or the year round in the minor leagues? Typically I’ve worked, uh, I worked, uh, officiated a football and basketball. It’s a high school level. I worked at a liquor store, one, one widow. I worked at a convenience store. You don’t just find basically temporary jobs to get you through the window because you know, you’re going to be going back to whatever league you’re going back to. Why don’t you take the vigilance and getting paid. And so, uh, you know, I traveled a little bit which sounds insane to, that’s all he do during the season, but a rack up a ton of critical flyer miles and yet a ton of a hotel points. And in the off season it’s nice to travel to places that you want to go and not have to work. So, you know, you’d go to Hawaii or Mexico or Australia or, or you know, whatever. But he just, you have the time. And, and, uh, um, to do that some, some, some guys have off season jobs, some sold real estate or uh, you know, just to, you know, because you get bored. Um, but, uh, you know, when you get the grades really do not have to work in the offices like you do in the minor leagues because you’re getting a nice salary to get you around
Outro: I am Geoff Rottmayer thank you for listenting to our conversation on The Baseball Awakening Podcast,