Inside USD

Calling the Plays All in a Day’s Work for MLB Umpire

Monday, October 5, 2009

dimuro-photoMike DiMuro ‘90 might be the most influential person you’ve never heard of. That said, his decisions affect thousands, and each is done in public. Welcome to the world of a Major League Baseball umpire.

Since June 1999, DiMuro has been living his dream job, a choice that was heavily influenced by his late father, Lou, an American League umpire from 1963-82.

“I grew up around it so, for me, my heroes were the umpires,” said DiMuro during a recent visit to campus and in town to umpire a San Diego Padres-Florida Marlins series at Petco Park. “I love the anonymity. You go out, work hard and do a good job.”

A minor-league umpire for nine years, DiMuro served as a vacation-relief MLB umpire for two years before scoring a permanent position. He remembers his MLB debut in July 1997 in Kansas City fondly: “I’d worked all those years in the minors and getting that call is the goal. To actually be on a major-league field, looking around the stadium with the fans, TV and everything, it’s unreal. But you just have to tell yourself ‘all right, let’s get down to business.’”

Since that day, he’s had several other noteworthy experiences. DiMuro umpired a division playoff series in 2000, the 2005 MLB All-Star Game in Detroit and he was the home plate umpire for milestone wins by pitchers Tom Glavine (200th career win) and Roger Clemens (250th win). In 1997 he was the first American umpire to work regular-season games in Japan. “It was one of the best experiences of my life. Japanese baseball is amazing.”

dimuro-photo2DiMuro, who has a BA in Communication Studies, is one of three siblings with a USD degree. As a student, he was involved in fraternity life, enjoyed his classes and relished the university’s tight-knit atmosphere. “I remember being at DeSales Hall (now Maher) for freshman housing. Every day people gathered on the grass to hang out. Everybody knew each other.”

The Catholic aspect of USD motivated DiMuro to give back and help others. He earned his commercial pilot’s license and volunteered in Arizona as a pilot for Angel Flight, an organization that flies medical patients to hospitals for free so that their critical health care needs can be met.

Additionally, DiMuro has been involved with BLUE for Kids since 2004. MLB umpires banded together to form UMPS CARE Charities in 2006, in which umpires visit childrens’ hospitals, raise money at annual golf events and provide at-risk youth and foster children a taste of the MLB experience.

DiMuro takes part in 10-15 BLUE Crew Tickets events during the season; each invites four to 10 guests to a meet-and-greet in the dressing room, an on-field visit and a stint sitting in the dugout. Guests get tickets, a gift bag and a signed baseball. DiMuro gets the satisfaction of making a difference.

“What can we, as umpires, do to give a kid a memorable experience?” DiMuro asked. “It reminds me of how my dad was — with fans, kids, anyone. As an umpire he always took that extra minute and always had a friendly hello.”

— Ryan T. Blystone

Top photo courtesy of UMPS CARE Charities

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