Manila umpire going west
Blake Carr of Manila left on Saturday, June 17, flying to Salt Lake City, Utah, where he will be umpiring in the Pioneer League which consists of eight teams across four states including Montana, Idaho, Colorado and Utah.
He will be umpiring 77 minor league games in 82 days across the four states.
Carr flew into Utah where he attended the league meeting before driving eight hours to Billings, Montana, to start the busy season.
He met up with his partner Trey Thompson of North Carolina. The two will work the games together throughout the season.
The 2012 Manila High School graduate has been working on a career in umpiring for several years while attending college.
He started umpiring in 2013 calling local coach pitch, machine pitch, and Little Leagues games. In 2014 he started doing high school games working 1A through 3A divisions. He continued in 2015 working 5A and 6A division high school games and small college games.
He got his first post season assignment in 2015 calling a 1A Regional and a 2A State Tournament. It was an experience that put Carr to seriously considering the possibility of a career in umpiring.
Carr attended the Major League Baseball Camp at Busch Stadium in St. Louis in July of 2015. He was then invited to attend a camp in Ft. Myers, Fla., on Dec. 26-Dec. 31, 2015.
He then had the opportunity to attend Harry Wendelstedt School for Umpires in Daytona Beach, Fla., from Jan. 1 to Feb. 5.
“It was all a great learning experience,” Carr said.
Carr ranked third out of the class of 137 attending the school. Carr went on to the minor league baseball umpire Development Evaluation at Vero Beach, Fla.
Carr was placed in the Coastal Plains Collegiate League which included 15 teams in Georgia, North and South Carolina and Virginia. From there, he was promoted to the Arizona League calling minor league rookie ball.
“It was a hot season,” Carr said. “The temperature was between 101 degrees to 117 degrees every game.”
It was a great experience for Carr.
Carr turned down an assignment for spring training and extended spring training to finish his college degree.
He returned home and graduated from Arkansas State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education.
He is ready to get back on the tour and is looking forward to the challenge.
Carr said he had some very good instructors during his training.
“The major league umpire supervisors advised me to lose weight and I got on a healthy diet and with moderate workouts, I lost 65 pounds,” he said.
Some of the highlights of his umpiring include working his second high school Regional 2A Tournament in Marked Tree; his first State 1A State Tournament at Mt. Home; his third Regional Tournament for the 3A at Manila; his third State 6A Regional at Benton; and his second State Champion game at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville. He worked as crew chief in the 6A Championship game. He worked three state tournaments in four years.
He also has a umpire championship ring from umpiring the AZL Mariners Championship game in 2016.
As of right now, Blake is the only professional umpire from Arkansas. In January he was the guest speaker at the Arkansas Officials Association meeting with about 400 people attending.
He is excited about traveling to new states and is looking forward to the season. While he is away, he plans to pursue a masters degree on line.
His ultimate goal is to someday be a major league umpire.
“It is always good to have a back up plan,” Carr said. “I've had the opportunity to meet several major league umpires and their words of advice include to relax, enjoy the moment and always be professional."
Carr said, "Umpiring is a job where we are expected to be perfect from the start and improve every game.
“Sometimes it can be a thankless job but at the end of the day I want to know I did the best I could do."