Professional umpires are a diverse bunch. They come from every part of the country and all walks of life, but something they each have in common is a remarkable work ethic and a commitment to their dream of becoming a Major League umpire. While sourcing my July feature article for Comstock’s about the career journey of umpires, I learned just how much they give up and how many hours they put in away from home to reach the pinnacle of their profession.
I had a chance to catch up with AAA professional umpire Jordan Ferrell over lunch in Old Sacramento. We discussed his hometown in Tennessee and his life outside the game.
On how he spends the off season:
“I return to my hometown of Clarksville, Tenn., which is about an hour west of Nashville. I earn a living as a substitute high school teacher, varsity basketball referee and a volunteer firefighter with the East Montgomery Volunteer Fire Department. I also hunt. I own 50 acres of land just outside the city limits.”
On being in two places at once:
“To entice big and small game to my property, I grow soybeans and clover, keep them bushhogged (trimmed to about eight inches) and watered for the best growth. During the 6-month baseball season when I’m on the road, I try to make at least two trips home to keep the fields cut. If I can’t get back home, my dad helps me out. My parents live in the same town just a few minutes from my property and keep an eye on things when I’m gone.”
On work/life balance:
“Even with a crazy schedule, I keep a pretty healthy perspective on maintaining a work-life balance. I like how Van Wilder (from ‘National Lampoon’s Van Wilder’) put it. He said, ‘Don’t take life so seriously. You’ll never get out alive.’ So for me, it’s important not to trade hours for dollars and to find a career that I’m passionate about and derive more than money from. The bottom line is to do something I enjoy.”
When hunting season ends in February, Ferrell swaps his hunting gear for umpire gear and hits the road for another 144 games of baseball.
For more on the hoops Ferrell jumps through to survive as a AAA umpire and hopefully make it to the majors, check back next week for Laurie Lauletta-Boshart’s July feature, “Waiting on the Call.” Sign up for our newsletter, and we’ll email you when it’s available online.