Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Major League Umpiring Debut: Sean Barber (29)

Umpire Sean Barber made his MLB debut Opening Night during the Dodgers-Padres game in San Diego. Barber joined Fieldin Culbreth's crew Sunday night and Tuesday afternoon, working alongside Jim Reynolds, Manny Gonzalez and Culbreth. Culbreth's umpiring crew L is one of several crews that will feature a Triple-A fill-in umpire for the 2014 regular season.

Umpire Sean Barber motions for new baseballs.
Photo: Mark Rebilas/USA Today 
Barber is on the International League umpire roster for the 2014 season, which is his third season in the IL and AAA. Hoberg is a 2006 graduate of the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School and began his career with Minor League Baseball in the Appalachian League, before promotions to the South Atlantic, Florida State, Southern, Arizona Instructional and Venezuelan Leagues preceded his IL appointment. Barber worked the 2012 Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game and 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifying stage in Jupiter, Florida.

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.


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