Young umpire has a dream
Nate White has a dream. He would someday like to be a Major League Baseball umpire.
He’s well on his way. As a high school senior, the 18-year-old is already umpiring high school games.
White is the only high school senior umpiring baseball games this season in Northern Nevada. He’s doing it as part of his senior project at Carson High.
This season, White is working junior varsity games and has worked one varsity game on the 1A level. It’s nothing new for White.
He has been umpiring for six years, beginning as a 12-year-old in Little League. He’s a second generation umpire, following in the footsteps of his father, Steve White.
“That’s how I got started, doing it with my dad in Little League,” White said. “I just fell in love with umpiring even more than playing baseball.”
Last summer as a 17-year-old, White umpired for players older than him in an 18-and-under summer league. He also umpired the championship game of last year’s USABA 18 and under World Series in Carson City. “It’s really competitive ball,” White said.
“Nate has a lot of composure and he doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder,” said Carson City’s Harry Burchfield, vice president of the Northern Nevada Officials Association, also known as the NNOA. “He doesn’t creat a lot of problems.”
Burchfield has served as White’s mentor for his senior project.
“I’ve had a lot of fun this year going out there and umpiring,” White said. “I love baseball so much. Things didn’t work out playing it, so umpiring’s the next best thing.”
Burchfield said since White is younger, he tends to be tested more than the older umpires. But White said it’s not anything he can’t handle.
“The age of it is sort of shocking to people,” White said. “They don’t expect an 18-year-old to do a good job. But after the game I gain a lot of respect.”
Burchfield said he would like to see more high school seniors umpire high school games. He said anyone who is 18-years-old is eligible to umpire high school games.
Murph Glover, who played for the Carson High baseball team and is a freshman at the University of Nevada, is another umpire who has been working high school games this year. “He’s one of our up and coming stars,” Burchfield said.
“We’re hoping to get some more,” said Burchfield about high school seniors umpiring. “We’d like to get them going young, then we can teach them the way they need to be taught. They’re very trainable.”
Many 18-year-old high school seniors don’t have the chance to play and don’t even know it’s possible for them to umpire, Burchfield said. But Burchfield said it’s open to any 18-year-old high school senior.
White said he’s been appreciative of the training he’s received from Burchfield and NNOA president Bruce Jackson also of Carson City. “We’re kind of proud of Carson City,” Burchfield said.
Before this week, White had put in 54 hours in games and meetings this season, not counting the studying he has had to do. He had to take a National High School Federation test in which he scored 96.
It’s likely that White will have the chance to umpire more varsity games as soon as next year. He plans to attend Western Nevada Community College and earn his associate degree.
When he turns 21, White said he plans to begin his quest to become a Major League Umpire by attending the Professional Umpires School in Florida.
As part of his senior project, White wrote his paper on how to become a Major League umpire. He noted that Major League umpires are required to have 20-20 vision and to be in good physical condition.
If White does well in the umpires school, he would likely be sent to the Baseball Umpire Development program. From there he would be assigned to umpire in the minor leagues.
Umpires work there way up through the minors to the Major Leagues much like players. It’s actually more difficult for umpires. While there are 800 Major League players, there are only 68 Major League umpires.
But there’s a good reason to become a Major League umpire. The starting salary is $84,713 a year.
But White had a better reason to pursue his dream. “The best reason is just to be in the game,” he said.
Charles Whisnand is the Nevada Appeal Sports Editor.