Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

MLB finding talent at umpire camps

Lance Barksdale calls a strike during a  game between  St. Louis  and Cincinnati on Aug. 9.  Aug. 9, 2016, in St. Louis. The Reds won 7-4. (AP Photo/Billy Hurst) (Billy Hurst / AP)
Lance Barksdale calls a strike during a game between St. Louis and Cincinnati on Aug. 9. Aug. 9, 2016, in St. Louis. The Reds won 7-4. (AP Photo/Billy Hurst) (Billy Hurst / AP)
Associated Press

Charlie Reliford sold his car to chase his big league dreams, using the money to help play the cost of attending umpire school.

Times have changed for those with the skills and aspirations seeking to become major league umps.

MLB held its fifth and final 2016 umpire camp Saturday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, before the Tampa Bay Rays hosted the Texas Rangers.

Five to seven attendees will end up getting invitations to join a group totaling around 30 for a December minicamp in Fort Myers that will determine umpire school scholarship recipients.

“Realizing that for anybody to quit their job and risk four or five weeks of their life is a big step, much less come up with several thousand dollars in tuition,” said Reliford, an MLB umpire supervisor. “Baseball was gracious enough to give us a budget where we could help some worthy candidates get their start with little to no risk of their own other than their time.”

Over 100 past participants have moved on to professional ball since the first camp in 2006. One of them, Carlos Torres, worked the Kansas City Royals-Rays series earlier this month at Tropicana Field.

“That’s really the moments that are good to me,” Reliford said. “I helped that guy a little bit.”

Reliford was “fresh” out of the University of Kentucky and working as a director at a YMCA in 1982 when he made the call that would eventually land him in the majors seven years later.

“Umpire school tuition was several thousand dollars and quite frankly, just out of college, didn’t have it,” Reliford said. “So, I sold my car, quit my job with all of my friends telling, me, ‘What, are you crazy?’ And I went to umpire school. For me, it was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

All 14 scholarship recipients last year are currently working in the minor leagues.

Rangers ink Gomez to minor-league deal

The Texas Rangers signed outfielder Carlos Gomez to a minor league contract Saturday and assigned him to Triple-A Round Rock.

General manager Jon Daniels said Gomez, who was released by the Houston Astros on Friday, will be in the lineup Sunday for the Round Rock Express.

Daniels said the Rangers hope to get the two-time All-Star on the major league roster “sooner (rather) than later.”

Gomez hit .210 with five home runs and 29 RBIs in 85 games with Houston. The Astros got him late last summer from Milwaukee.

Clearing the bases

Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left shoulder injury. … Astros third baseman Luis Valbuena could be lost for the season after experiencing a setback in his quest to return from a right leg injury. … The Padres recalled Patrick Kivlehan from Triple-A El Paso.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.