A little more than a month ago, Major League Baseball Umpire Chris Conroy was living the dream, working behind home plate for Game 1 of the World Series.
It was the culmination of his life’s work – more than two decades as a professional umpire – and the glow of the being part of the umpiring crew for the Fall Classic was still noticeable.
Chris took time last night to share his story with teens involved with the Philadelphia Phillies baseball and softball programs who are participating in our UMPS CARE Charities Official Leadership Program. Chris, who lives outside of Philadelphia, was excited to talk with the students, answering questions ranging from his first MLB game as an umpire to what it’s like to eject a manager.
At one point, he was asked about his favorite baseball team. The answer: He does not have one. Umpires don’t. But his favorite basketball team? The Celtics. (Chris is a Massachusetts native but now calls Philly home).
UMPS CARE has teamed up with the Phillies for the fourth installment of the Official Leadership Program, a 6-week course that launched this past summer. Taught by umpire educators, this program teaches social and emotional learning skills in the classroom in addition to teaching umpire mechanics on the field.
After Chris spoke with the kids in the classroom, he joined the students and the instructors, Brian Peterson and Justin Sims, at the Phillies’ batting cages in Citizens Bank Park – the same cages used by Bryce Harper and Co. There, the students were drilled on safe and out calls, and practiced strike calls. Brian is a former Minor League Baseball Umpire, and Justin umpires at the collegiate level. Chris showed the students how he makes calls and offered tips throughout the night.
In addition to meeting Chris, the students Zoomed with retired MLB Umpire Jim Joyce last week and will be introduced to local assignors to work games once they complete the course. The goal is eliminating all barriers to potential employment, and we are grateful to Jim Kirk and his crew at Ump-Attire.com for donating equipment for this program.
Special shout out to Monica Clark and her crew with the Philadelphia Phillies for making this program such a huge success!
To learn more about this program, click here
(Chris Conroy, fifth from left, at 2021 World Series Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Official Leadership Program instructors Justin Sims, left, and Brian Peterson, right, with Chris Conroy)