MLB Umpires Salary: How Much Do MLB Umps Make?

MLB Umpires Salary: How Much Do MLB Umps Make?
(Photo credit: Keith Allison)

How much do MLB Umpires make? Here’s all you need to know about MLB umpires salary in 2020.

The umpire in the sport of baseball is an official charged with officiating the game. They enforce and ensure the adherence of games rule, making judgment calls on plays when necessary, and handling disciplinary actions.

With an emphasis on MLB umpires salary, we’ll review how to become a major league umpire, how much MLB umpires make, and also the history, pros, and cons of the job.

How do you become an MLB Umpire?

Umpiring isn’t an easy task, but considering the financial benefits and other incentives, it makes it a rewarding job.

The career route to becoming a professional baseball umpire is a long-enduring one. Firstly, one must become well vast and experience in the minor league and then earn the big leagues’ call-up. The MLB requires 70 professional umpires in the major league working for a 17 crews team, so, therefore, the competition to earn the call up to the big game is fierce.

The decision to become an MLB Umpire isn’t just a simultaneous one; one makes at random. There are specific requirements. Firstly, the physical requirement. One must possess an average body weight, height, and strength. Good vision, quick reflexes are necessary as well.

One has to enroll with an approved, reputable minor-league umpiring school. At this point, the tight rope walk begins. 15 to 20 percent of the applied recruited candidates in various umpiring schools are selected to participate in the Minor League Baseball Advanced Course. The process repeats itself as a few from this group are selected to the short-season leagues, i.e., umpiring in rookie ball or class. And next, the minor league.

Impressive performance in the minor league leads to an invitation to the Major League Baseball. However, prior to that prestigious invitation to the MLB, there are years of patience, dedication, and hard work in the lower ranks.

MLB Umpires Salary: How Much Do MLB Umpires Make in 2020?

Professional MLB umpires earn brutally less compared to MLB players; however, their paycheck still speaks financial stability.

While various sources are stipulating the annual earning of an MLB Umpire, it is common knowledge an average MLB Umpire rakes in about $235,000 yearly. The starting rookie in big league earns $150,000 while senior and experienced umpires rake in $450,000 annually. Also, Umpires who work in the World Series earn as much as $20,000. The pay is reasonable for the rigorous job of umpiring. Compared to other regular professions, this is much more than a fair wage.

It’s not all work for MLB Umpires, during the regular season, they get benefits of a month for vacation. It may not seem much, but considering other factors, such as the mental and physical drains of umpiring, one would realize it’s a lot.

Compared to average officiating members in other sports, MLB Umpires earn more. Referees in the NFL receive an average of $188,322 per year. Referees in the NBA remain top of the income chain, with an average earning of $375,000.

ALSO SEE: World Series Winners/Losers, Wins By Team, Games

How Much Do Minor League Umpires Make?

Minor league umpires earn a minimum of $2,000 every month for starters in the rookie and short-season. It could go up as much as $2,300. In Triple-A, they could earn as high as $3,900 and pocketing a daily pay of $66. In total, considering the AAA seasons spans below six months, minor umpires earn about $20,000 annually.

ALSO SEE: World Series History, Facts & Trivia

History, the job of an MLB Umpire, Pros & Cons

William McLean, from Philadelphia, in 1876, was the first professional baseball umpire. He umpired the first national league game on April 22 between Boston and Philadelphia. Ever since umpiring has become a phenomenal influence in the sport of baseball.

After the civil war, baseball as a sport gained nationwide popularity and acceptance in the United States, thus leading to the game’s professionalization and hence the need for professional umpires. In 1871, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players continued its system of permitting the home team appointing unpaid volunteers from a list of names submitted by the visiting team to umpire games.

However, the slight difference was higher authority was vested upon the arbiter by limiting appeals to decisions related to rules interpretation. In 1878, they formulated a policy that saw home teams paying umpires $5 per game. In 1879, baseball’s first umpire staff was formed- a group of twenty men from which baseball teams could choose an arbiter.

Working as a Major League Baseball umpire can be a magnificent job; however, it is a hectic one too. It involves lots of travels, which can be fun but also quite rigorous; it comes with a lot of pressure on the field and sometimes calls for the game intuitive decision-making process, which must be nothing short of a just call.

Cleveland coach and Umpires – Bill Miller (26), Adam Hamari (78), Kerwin Danley, Ryan Blakney
Cleveland coach and Umpires – Bill Miller (26), Adam Hamari (78), Kerwin Danley, Ryan Blakney – Indians at Orioles on 6/19/17. (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

There are also job security worries too. A wrong blunder and fanatic fans are calling for one’s suspension. The pressure of not making that unsuitable decision with thousands of fans watching can sometimes seem inevitable as it happened in Jim Joyce’s case, which ruined Armando Galarraga’s perfect game back in 2010. There is also a constant threat for robots to replace umpires. The job of an MLB Umpire is most likely the most strenuous jobs among various sports umpires.

Reality check — the umpires are indispensable baseball men. However, the sad reality is that the game system considers them nothing but an umpire or another game by-passer. Fans see them as villains waiting to ruin the perfect play for their favorites. Players view them as adversarial autocrats, and the press only knows they exist when they commit the wrong call. The job of an MLB Umpire stretches beyond on-field performance, and it is mentally, emotionally, and physically demanding as well as time-consuming.

Still, there are exciting perks that come with being an MLB umpire. The exposure to different historic stadiums where MLB games hold, the expense-free travels, regular contacts with MLB superstars, and buoyant paychecks.

In games which requires officiation from more than one umpire, the chief umpire, which in most cases would be the home plate umpire is the umpire in charge of the game. Note that the chief umpire should not be confused with the crew chief, a different umpire. The chief umpire calls balls and strike, fair balls, foul balls shorts of first/third base. The home plate umpire dresses in similar wears and equipment like the catcher, to prevent injury. In the unlikely event of an umpire getting injured, the second base would generally be left vacant.

In almost every level of organized, professional baseball games, umpires crew officiating games rotate to allow each umpire work in each of the different umpiring positions in an equal number of games, including the home plate umpire. In the developmental stages of baseball, the plate umpire is usually senior umpires.

ALSO SEE: Top-20 Richest Baseball Players In The World


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