Sunday Review: “UMPSCARE Visits Tampa Bay


Blogger’s Note:

Here it is Sunday again, and this week I want to go back into the Rays Renegade archives and pull out a posting from May 23,2009 where I peek into another side of those men we  all love to hate behind the plate.

Major League Umpires have been getting the wrath of the fans over the last several months, and I wanted to again remind people at this time of the year where we give as much as receive that they too, sometimes go beyond the lines of the field to give in every MLB community before, during and after the season. / Ricky Roberts

I have to be the first guy to admit this today. Sometimes I have a habit during the game of not thinking about those guys in blue being anything other than sadistic holders of my emotions during Tampa Bay Rays baseball games. For some reason, the umpiring crews are the easiest people to not feel any pleasure for in the entire scope of MLB baseball.

We all yell and scream and question their every moves. But we as fans, do not get to see that other side of them after they take their rough exterior beyond the Home Plate club area back into their little room under the stands at Tropicana Field.

But recently the guys in blue came to Tampa, Florida to bring smiles for miles to some deserving youngster through the Umps Care charities. This is a non-profit foundation supported by the MLB umpires. With a new arrival of the men in blue coming in for the Oakland A’s versus Tampa Bay Rays game at Tropicana Field, the visiting Umpire crew of Lance Barksdale, Alphonso Marquez, Randy Marsh,and Mike Winters took some time out to visit with local children at St. Joseph’s Childrens Hospital of Tampa this last Tuesday. They were also accompanied by our own “Rays” blue man in the form of the ever loving mascot Raymond. / Ricky Roberts

During their visit to the cancer and blood disorder areas of the hospital, the umpires went from room to room with pre-stuffed bears and  a huge collection of clothing for them provided by the Build-A-Bear Workshop Experience.  They spent their first part of the visit going to the rooms in encourage the youngsters to come out and help build their own personal bear,rabbit or puppy and were allowed to get one additional outfit for their animal.   

Lance Barksdale, set to work home plate in the Rays game later Tuesday evening, told Samuel Dearth in a Special to article, “This is a wonderful way for our umpires to give back in Major League cities across the country.”  After visiting in the wards, the umpires set-up shop outside in the lobby area of the hospital and also provided additional stuffed smile producing animals for other children in the hospital that day.

The Umps Care program was founded in 2006, and the Build-A-Bear Workshop experience is called BLUE for Kids.  In the past 3 seasons, the umpires have conducted 31 special visits to hospitals and care units like St. Josephs. / Ricky Roberts

In those past events, the umpires have distributed over 2,500 huggable bears to community children. The events have a firm backing of such awesome companies like Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gerry Davis Sports, and The World Umpire Association.  We all know that umpires are not the cold-blooded individuals they display on the turf at our stadiums every night. These events instill that sense of community bond and also a reality of life that is important to all of us……….even umpires. 

If you would like to know more about this organization, please got to where you can find additional photos and programs supported by this fantastic organization.

Just remember the next time you  see an umpire near the sideline to just thank them for what they do in this great program. We might not show our love for them once the words “Play Ball” sound throughout the stadium, but it is great to know that these guys also have a release for the pressures and the stresses of this position within the MLB. / Ricky Roberts

So by thanking them you might not get that close call at first base, or maybe that strike called on the black, but you might instill a sense of warmth in their minds that people do appreciate them outside of the uniforms, and beyond the chalk lines on the field.


I must admit that I was one those people that never gave a second thought to the umpires. They were kinda of invisible to me, well unless they call bad calls then there I was ready to critique. Not until I read this book about an umpire and his struggles starting in the minor league.

My daughter’s mom was friends with a guy in Palm Harbor who used to umpire for about 20 years.
He used to come over to her Mother’s house and I used to chat with him for hours about the game both at his level and from the seats.
If you really think how fast most of these decisions have to be made, it is a wonder more incidents do not happen.
Quick reflexes and a keen eye have to be paramount on the job.

Rays Renegade

I must admit, Renegade, that when I first read this entry heaing, I thought it was going to be about “UMP-SCARE”, hence a rant on umps again based on a blown call. I’m glad I read the entry and found it was exactly the opposite. A great entry, and great program by the umpiring crews. Props to them. Take care, Renegade. :)

The umpires do this at almost every location at some point during the season.
If you really think about it, they are away from their families and on the road more often than the players, and this is a stress relief activity that also does the world good.
I agree.Kudos to them for the good they do in MLB communities every season.

Rays Renegade

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