Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cricket Umpire Hillel Oscar Dies After Being Hit By Ball

Cricket umpire Hillel Oscar of Israel died after being hit by a ball during a weekend game in Ashdod. According to the Israel Cricket Association, Oscar was a former national team captain and since joined both the domestic and European umpiring ranks. Game-side accounts state he was hit in the jaw by a batted ball that had ricocheted off the stumps and died just two days after Australian batsman Phillip Hughes died of a head injury in Sydney.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Minor League Baseball Hires Jim Evans as Ump Advisor

Minor League Baseball hired Jim Evans as Umpire Advisor, a new special advisor position created by MiLB. In his role as a special advisor for the league, Evans will serve as a consultant to the President of Minor League Baseball on umpiring-related matters, including special event assignment.

Former MLB Umpire Jim Evans
Evans is the former chief of the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring (JEAPU), which fell from grace several years ago after an incident at a school-sponsored party.

Prior to 2012, the Florida-based JEAPU and the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School were the only two umpire schools certified by professional baseball to train prospective umpires, which meant that in order to be considered by the Professional Baseball Umpiring Corp. (PBUC), a prospective umpire must have graduated from JEAPU or HW; without going through one of these two feeder schools accredited by MiLB, no umpire would be invited to attend the PBUC evaluation course, another MiLB-placement prerequisite.

In 2012, Minor League Baseball announced the creation of its own feeder school, the league-run The Umpire School (TUS), effectively creating three potential avenues into the competitive and highly selective business of professional umpiring.

Also in 2012, JEAPU threw a bowling party for its instructors after graduation. During this party, one bowling team comprised of Academy employees allegedly wore uniforms resembling white robes associated with the Klu Klux Klan and bowled under the team name, "Klein's Kleaning Krew."

As MiLB reviewed the incident, it consulted PBUC Executive Director Justin Klemm, who also served as Executive Director of The Umpire School, ultimately giving JEAPU the umpiring school's death penalty: Minor League Baseball severed ties with JEAPU, meaning that it would not longer accept JEAPU graduates into the PBUC evaluation course, and, by extension, Minor League Baseball itself.

At the time, Evans wondered whether MiLB's decision, with Klemm's input, was a "conflict of interest." In the years following, The Umpire School's attendance has improved to healthy levels as JEAPU shut its doors to MiLB prospectives. The JEAPU website has not offered online enrollment for any umpiring course since its fateful 2012 class.

These days, Klemm is the Director of Instant Replay for Major League Baseball and is in charge of operations at the New York Replay Operations Center. Klemm accordingly retired from his Executive Director position with PBUC in January of 2014, when he took the MLB post in New York.