|Umpire Sean Barber motions for new baseballs.|
Photo: Mark Rebilas/USA Today
An umpire himself, Barber's father encouraged Barber to take up the craft, a vision that was not realized until Barber happened upon a fateful experience while attending Hillsborough Community College.
Working at a pet store to supplement his freshman summer schedule, Barber suffered an eel bite on his right hand and through the bone, resulting in 27 stitches and making Barber unable to write or attend classes. Barber went to Umpire School that January.
At the time, Barber said he was umpiring for the love of the game: "There's probably not a chance to make it. The odds are so against you." During 2014's Opening Series, the odds turned favorable.
Barber resides in Lakeland, FL and wears the sleeve uniform number 29, last worn by MLB umpire Bill Hohn who retired in 2012 after 21 years of MLB service due to chronic injury. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound Barber, who makes his MLB debut at the age of 28, is an alum of Grand View University (then GV College) in Des Moines, IA. Barber was part of the MiLB crew assigned to the Arizona Fall League instant replay experiment in November 2013 and was two-for-two (100% accuracy) in Replay Reviews during 2014 MLB Spring Training.