>>> Primal Urges
By staff writer Nathan DeGraaf
April 5, 2006

Amy: I don’t like you working so much.

Nathan: I just got two hundred bucks. Wanna go out to dinner?

As most of you know by now (because I have relentlessly beat it into the ground), I’m here to help. And today I would like to help you by giving you a little tip on how to make some extra cash. I have a feeling most of you could use it.

I have been umpiring baseball since I was 13 years old. I quit four years ago. Recently, due to overpopulation issues in the suburban Tampa area, I have been called out of retirement to call a few games for a short-handed staff. Because I know how to do the job, I have been a great fit and a welcome newcomer. I am also averaging about 25 bucks an hour. Now, this is just mad money for me (read: money to spend on women), but for you it could be a temporary livelihood. So, to start you off on your path to getting screamed at by irate parents and overcompensating coaches, I am now going to explain how you, dear readers, can become umpires; why you would want to become umpires; and, as a bonus, I will also offer you some tips on how to umpire. I know this all sounds stupid, but just keep this in mind: pretty much every ballpark pays in cash.

“If umpiring high school softball, DO NOT FLIRT WITH THE GIRLS. I cannot stress this enough.”

Why You Would Want to Umpire

You wouldn’t want to umpire unless you meet the following criteria: you love baseball and hate seeing it done wrong. You can handle the heat and sweaty gear. You need a little extra cash, and deep down, you enjoy confrontation. You see, umpires get yelled at a lot. They are forced to pick and choose their battles regarding who to even argue with. There are so many options. Between the fans, the coaches, the players and close relatives… well, everyone wants a piece of the action. But you can only talk back to so many. Umpiring is an asshole’s dream, really. If you’re the kind of person who loves looking a grown man in the eye and telling him to shut the hell up or you’ll embarrass him in front of his kids, well, this is the job for you.

How to Become an Umpire

If you are an experienced umpire, well, this is really easy. But you’re not. So I’ll tell you how my friend Matt started making 50 bucks a game with no experience or interest in the gig. He found a friend who knew how to do it and then worked with him and only him for a while until he figured it out. If you understand ball, it ain’t that tricky. And if you got help from a friend, it’s even less tricky. Though said friend may reserve the right to compensation in the form of beer or currency.

Tips on How to Umpire

Hey, I got an idea, how about a list? Here’s the five most important things you need to know when umpiring:

1. Be loud (even if you’re just asking what time it is or for a fresh water—trust me, the fans will respect you). And if you need help being loud, a few beers’ll always loosen you up.

2. Have fun. If you smile the whole time, especially when someone’s screaming at you. People will think you’re insane and they will leave you alone.

3. Always find the hottest mom in the stands and learn who her son is. You never know, she may be single.

4. If umpiring high school softball, DO NOT FLIRT WITH THE GIRLS. I cannot stress this enough. The resulting R. Kelly jokes alone will make you wish you hadn’t done it. And well, once the law gets involved…

5. Drink plenty of fluids, and wear a cup (even if you’re a chick—it messes with the players and is good for a laugh). Have the proper gear and drink more water. Trust me, you can’t get enough.

Umpiring is a good way to get some fresh air, a little exercise and some extra cash. And, it seems that (if you live in a booming community anyway) there are never enough of them. I never thought I’d be back on the field after my last game, but you know what? I’m glad I kept my gear. And, if ever you find yourself hard up for cash, well, now’s the time. Baseball season is here after all so go out and call some games.

If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll even make a kid cry.