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Old Sun Dec 30, 2007, 06:18pm
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heading to school...

BUMPED...cuz it's that time of year again...


a couple of guys have asked for the free advice i offered. i answered one via PMs, but it is obnoxious splitting them up to meet the PM size requirement. sooo, i'll post what i sent him on here. the thoughts are rambling, but there are some useful tidbits in there. hope it helps somebody.

If you have a suit, or sport coat and dress pants, get it out and ready for the trip, as it is the proper dress for the banquet. Wear it on the plane on your way down. It will save it from getting wrinkled in your luggage and may make a good first impression on the instructors when they pick you up at the airport. YES, those are instructors that pick you up from the airport. They won't identify themselves as instructors, cuz your evaluation as a person has already begun. There have been guys that have shot themselves in the foot before they even got to the hotel to check in. I speak from experience.

Expect a phone call at the airport to try and locate you. Have your phone on and handy. It is chaos on arrival day for the apprentice instructors as they scramble to get everyone picked up, so be patient! There are a ton of guys arriving and only 2 or 3 shuttles running to try and get everyone.

Be polite at the hotel. Again, those guys helping with the check in process are instructors. Don’t make a bad name for yourself. Be patient with this process, too. DON'T complain about your roommate. You share a room with your partner in A ball, and you don't get to pick him. Roommate quarrels will be a part of your evaluation if you have problems.

After you get settled, make friends with someone that has a car and go to Wal-Mart (this is also necessary to get yourself to class each day.) To get to the Wal-Mart, go out of the hotel to the right and keep going. It’s 4 or 5 miles down on the left. Get shoe cleaning stuff and some cheap towels or rags. If you use the hotel towels to clean your shoes they will charge you. Jimmy usually gives out some red rags for shoe cleaning, but they shed and leave red fuzz on your shoes and on the floor in your room. Get some of your own. Get a few gallons of drinking water, cuz the Florida water is not good.

Take note of stuff around you on your trip. Just past the Wal-Mart there is a laundry place on the left (near the Sonic) that will do your laundry for you or you can do it yourself. You’ll pass a Hess station that is good in the morning or after class for random stuff you may need. Also, if you don't have Firehouse Subs where you live, make a point to visit it while you're down there. They’re grrrrrrrreat. It’s located down near the Wal-Mart. (If you're feeling adventurous when it’s laundry time, there is another laundry place if you go out of the hotel to the left a few miles. It's behind the Walgreens. That place is my favorite cuz they have a huge talking parrot that lives inside.)

As for on the field stuff...do your best not to get down on yourself. Take everything the training has to offer in stride and use all of it to better yourself as an umpire. The instructors do not discriminate between those that are competing for a job and those that are just there to get better. The training is the same for everyone. They will get on you, and they will try to expose your weaknesses on the field and use them against you. It is very easy to get discouraged, but, it is much better to have your weaknesses exposed during the training than to have it happen out in the real world.

Everything that happens is done to make you a better umpire. Do not be afraid to make mistakes in the first few weeks. It is 100% true when Jim says that the discussion about who's going to PBUC doesn't start til the 4th week. It’s ok to screw things up. It’s expected and encouraged, as long as you learn from it. You will hear many times that guys are making day 2 mistakes on day 5 or something along those lines. Make day 2 mistakes on day 2, learn from them, then don't make them again.

Ask questions if you need to, but don't jump ahead of the training. Jim covers EVERYTHING and he has an order in which he does it. Most likely your question will be answered before you need to ask it, but it may get answered a couple of days down the road. Write your questions down and then ask them later if he doesn't answer it when you get to that section of the training.

Work on "proper use of eyes" starting right now. Take a balled up pair of socks, lie on your back, throw it up in the air and catch it. Track it the whole way up and down only moving your eyes. If you go out for a ride in the car with someone else driving, track stuff with your eyes and keep your head still. Track passing cars, passing signs, anything. Try to train your eyes to move independently from your head. Continue the sock training at night in the hotel. He won't start you on tracking until late in week 2 or early week 3, but you'll be way ahead of the game if you start exercising your eyes now.

Keep you uniform neat. Press your pants in your room once a week or more. Clean your shoes. Shave. If you don't have a pair of real umpire pants, buy a pair now. Have them shipped to the school in you need to. You only really need one if you go on Sunday and wash them. You just shelled out 3 grand, another 50 bucks isn't going to break the bank, and you should look the part. While we're on that subject, get a real belt, too, if you don't alreay have one. Wear black socks, black shoes, and wear a navy blue undershirt if you are an undershirt type of person.

Help your group out as much as you can. After a while it will start to become obvious to you who the likely front runners for jobs are. If you have a likely candidate in your cage group, do whatever you can to help him without badgering him in the process.

Learn from everything. Watching the drills can be even more beneficial than doing them. Use the time waiting in line for your turn to see what other guys do right and wrong. By the time your turn comes, you will have seen 50 reps of the same thing. Ask the apprentice instructors questions while you are waiting in line, that's what they are there for. Do not, however, corner them and try to trick them with strange situations. They WILL talk about it with senior staff and it will come back to haunt you.

STRETCH! Stretch in the morning, at lunch, when you get home, and before going to bed. Sitting in the classroom will tighten your muscles up without you even realizing it. There is time built in for stretching before beginning the outdoor activities, but extra will benefit you as the weeks wear on.

Buy stuff from the store in the classroom! The apprentice instructors run that store and the profits from it make up about half of their pay. They really are “apprentices” and are only paid about 800 bucks for the month. They do all of the grunt work. Help them out by buying their stuff, and spread the word to other students!

Bring a cheap VCR if you have one, or split the cost of a cheapo from Wal-Mart with your roommate. There is a video review room (which you should make use of cuz it's staffed with instructors to answer questions and give advice) but it's only open a couple of hours each night. It’s great to be able to watch your video whenever you want, and you can have your whole cage group come over and watch them together.

Do not expect much, if any, positive reinforcement. "Not bad" means you're probably doing a good job. Jimmy’s philosophy is tough love. The instructors are not there to coddle you. Also, if they tell a guy "good job" a bunch of times and he ends up not going to PBUC, that may result in issues. You won't hear them say good job very often, though it does slip out every now and then.

Learn the instructors' names. They don't wear name tags. After a couple of days their pictures will be posted in the back of the classroom. You won't be quizzed on it, but you should study it a couple of minutes each day. Don’t call them sir, or Mr. _____, or any nickname you may hear them calling each other. Use their first name.

Do not ask questions during breaks. Breaks are breaks and the instructors need them! The apprentices have to set up their snack bar and the older guys have to use the bathroom, get a drink, or plan the next activity. They are only 10 or 15 minutes long and they need every minute of it.

For those of you that have heard the instruction compared to basic training...there are some similarities, but there really isn't any comparison. The mechanics and positioning are really the only things that are totally broken down to be cookie cutter. It’s the easiest way to evaluate guys…make everyone look the same and then evaluate performance instead of style. It works at school and it's what PBUC wants the first couple of years. There will be time near the end of the 5 weeks where you will work a little bit on style.

If you go out at night, do not get in trouble. Everybody in the area knows who you are. The school goes on every year and there is an influx of guys that have "the look." People in the area know who you are and where you're from and if crap happens it will get back to Jimmy.

If you go into a bar and see instructors, leave. If you go to a specific destination (Howl at the Moon, Cowboys, Church St., etc) and there are instructors, stay and have fun, but stay away from them. Don’t buy them drinks, don't go hang out with them. If you must pass them, a simple hello will suffice.

Don’t hang out in the hotel bar if you want a job. Do hang out in the hotel bar if you want to hear war stories from Jimmy and you are not looking for a job.

Sorry that this was all over the place, thoughts just kept popping into my head. Feel free to ask any specific questions you may have and I will answer them to the best of my ability. For those of you that are headed down there, you will have the time of your life! Have a blast.
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Last edited by bobbybanaduck; Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 10:39am.
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Old Sun Dec 30, 2007, 08:38pm
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Don't forget the large bottle of Ibuprofen, especially if you haven't been working out much. You can get them at the student store also.
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Old Sun Dec 30, 2007, 10:59pm
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A couple of anecdotes:

We had two guys in 2001 that wanted to try out the 1 week school in hopes of attending the 5 week the next year. They were picked up by Scott Higgins (maybe another instructor as well). They mentioned that they were the top two guys in their association in CA. Higgins asked them multiple times during the week which one was #1 and which one was #2. One of them also had an MLB replica umpire jacket when Honigs carried them. He wore it on the field. Big no-no. They called him the "big leaguer" several times. Adonis Hill clued us in to what was going on. Bobby (aka Squeaky) post mirrors much of what is in Rick Roder's book with some recent and updated info. Good stuff...

Lawrence
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Old Sun Dec 30, 2007, 11:36pm
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Not planning on attending until next year, but thanks for the info.

Maybe I should go twice because I bet Jim's war stories are good
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Old Sun Dec 30, 2007, 11:45pm
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bobby,

random question, but does your physical appearance (as in how your body looks) get you bonus points? Would they be more inclined to hire a guy with a thick, strong, athletic build than a guy who's more "puny" (for lack of a better term) with similar abilities?

Exclude people that are overweight, since that's obviously not good.
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Old Mon Dec 31, 2007, 12:31am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TussAgee11
Not planning on attending until next year, but thanks for the info.

Maybe I should go twice because I bet Jim's war stories are good
They are GREAT! My favorite: Pam Postema (female made it to AAA) punched a guy out on strikes. He turned around and said FU! Her IMMEDIATE response: "You'll have to make it 11:30. I have the catcher at 10."
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Old Mon Dec 31, 2007, 12:52am
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I don't get it, but maybe cause its close to 1am.

My pure point of the post is to correct what I said. I plan on attending in two years, not one (Jan 2010), just so I don't get called out on it come next December
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Old Mon Dec 31, 2007, 11:37am
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Quote:
Thanks for posting tips on how to get the most out of professional umpire schooling. While I was thinking of going in winter semester of 2009, I might end up going once I have finished (school.) One part of me wants to not interrupt school, the other part really wants to get down there and learn things sooner as opposed to later.

So a few questions. How often is it that an umpire will go to school more than once? What is the cameraderie like? Do guys tend to be supportive, or are there bitter rivalries? I find it amazing that anybody would consider going to the hotel bar knowing that Jim Evans would be there. How could anyone think sitting in on him and the veteran instructors and listening to their war stories would be a good idea? Wouldn't that just bug them? There must be umpires who are the laughingstock of the class because of their unprofessionalism. How much down time can one expect to get?
first, if you have started post-high school education and you are going to umpire school looking for a job finish your education first. only 1% of guys that start in profrssional ball make it to the show, so you need something to fall back on.

there are always a few guys in each calss that have attended before. i was one of them. there are many reasons why they come back. i got hurt my first year and missed to much time to be considered for a spot to PBUC. other guys may be slower to pick things up but feel that they had come on strong at the end of the session and think they may be able to get a job if they attend again. others are simply dillusional. whatever the case may be, if you are a second year student, you are expected to be head and shoulders above the rest. day one of training for everyone else is day one of week 6 for the second year student.

the camaraderie is what you make it. i made life-long friends at umpire school, both as a student and as an instructor...and both professional umpires and guys that didn;t make it. my roommate my second year was 50+, was married, had a family, and was just there to better himself as an umpire. i have remained in contact with him. his family has come to visit me on the road, he sends care packages, and things like that. if you want to make friends, you can make ones that will last forever. everybody that attends the school shares the common bond of the love of umpiring.

as far as being supportive or seeking out rivialries is concerned, it is, again, what you make it. there is evidence of both every year. jimmy repeatedly uses the analogy of trying to climb up a ladder. the guys that climb at a slow, steady pace make it to the top quicker than the guys that take time to try and kick the people behind them down off of the ladder.

i, too, find it amazing the number of guys that sit in the bar at the hotel every year. while i'm sure it makes for great story time with jim, you aren;t there for story time, you're there to get a job. if, however, you aren't there to get a job, the yarns he spins during these sessions would likely be of interest. veteran instructors do not hang out in the hotel bar. in fact, it's often tough to find the instructors at night if you don't know exactly wjere to look. if you did happen to know where to look, you are probably doing the wrong thing.

there usually are a couple of "that guys" each year. don't be "that guy." sometimes they know who they are, and other times they are so oblivious to the fact that it's even more amusing.

the down time issue is another "what you make of it" type of thing. class starts promptly at 8am. if you arrive at 8, you are late. you have an hour at lunch, and then class gets out between 5 and 6. dinner is served at the hotel from 6-7:30. the video review room is open from 7-9 or 7-10. you don't have to use the review room if you don't want. there is no structure to the evenings. once you leave the complex, you are on your own until 8am the next day. you usually will have some homework to do, and there is always studying to keep you occupied, but there is time at night to do other things if that is what you want to do.
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Old Mon Dec 31, 2007, 03:33pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dash_riprock
They are GREAT! My favorite: Pam Postema (female made it to AAA) punched a guy out on strikes. He turned around and said FU! Her IMMEDIATE response: "You'll have to make it 11:30. I have the catcher at 10."
Haha yeah Jim told me that in Jersey this past November. With the number of years experience between Jim and Sarge, I bet there are different stories in that bar every night.
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Old Mon Dec 31, 2007, 03:45pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpc2119
Haha yeah Jim told me that in Jersey this past November. With the number of years experience between Jim and Sarge, I bet there are different stories in that bar every night.
I was at the same clinic. It's a good thing I'm too old to have any chance at pro ball. I don't think I could NOT hang out at the hotel bar with Jim to hear the war stories. To me, that alone is well worth the price of the clinic.
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Old Mon Dec 31, 2007, 03:48pm
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I'm goin down with two older guys from my association who hopefully will relay some of those stories to me cause I will be staying a good distance away
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Old Mon Dec 31, 2007, 10:03pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TussAgee11
I don't get it, but maybe cause its close to 1am.
Then you will be getting sloppy thirds!
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Old Mon Dec 22, 2008, 10:39am
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bumped...cuz it's that time of year again.
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Old Mon Dec 22, 2008, 04:47pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dash_riprock View Post
They are GREAT! My favorite: Pam Postema (female made it to AAA) punched a guy out on strikes. He turned around and said FU! Her IMMEDIATE response: "You'll have to make it 11:30. I have the catcher at 10."
A year later...

I get it.
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Old Mon Dec 22, 2008, 08:39pm
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BBD

Would the play-by-play you just gave for the Evans school be the same for the Wendelstedt school? Could you give us an evaluation or comparison on what the Wendelstedt school is like from what you have heard? If you do not know that much about Harry's school is there anyone else who could give the same evaluation about Harry's school. Could someone also give us some differences between the 2 schools without making disparaging remarks about either school. Just a good evaluation or comparison of both schools with their differences will be greatly appreciated. This question is not meant to try and prove which one is best per say, but just to find out the strengths and weaknesses (probably not any weaknesses anyway) and differences of both. Thanks.

Last edited by tballump; Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 09:11pm.
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