Just to give a quick shoutout to Mineville’s Alex Lawrie who this week started his professional umpiring career in the Gulf Coast League. Lawrie earned his spot in pro ball by completing the Minor League Baseball Umpire Training Academy this past winter. Only 20% of academy students are hired by Minor League Baseball. He becomes the first Nova Scotian to umpire professional baseball since Troy Blades (Clark’s Harbour) left the International League at the end of the 2002 season.
Lawrie started umpiring minor baseball at the age of 13. He was umpiring in the Nova Scotia Senior League by the time he was 18. He also umpired in the independent Can-Am League the last two summers. The process to get to the Majors is even longer and more drawn out than it is for players. The umps continue up the ranks level by level and cannot skip a level in the minors. They spend a season at one level and if their performance is good enough, their promoted to the next one the following summer. It can take up to ten years to reach the Major Leagues. Lawrie is quoted, “They say it’s the longest job interview in the world”. He is not kidding.
Fredericton’s Matt Whipple umpired in the Gulf Coast League in 2017 and in the New York Penn League last year.