Earning Their Stripes as Umpires and Referees !

David Martinez left a teaching job to become an umpire. CreditOscar Hidalgo for The New York Times
  • In 2012, when David Martinez left a job teaching math at a high school in Bayonne, N.J., to try to become a professional baseball umpire, he understood that the numbers might not add up.

At the time, he earned $40,000 a year as a teacher and supplemented his salary by umpiring high school baseball. “Between my wife and I, we were doing well,” Mr. Martinez recalls.

But the promise of calling balls and strikes for a living — even a meager one (rookie umpires in Minor League Baseball make $1,900 a month and typically work from mid-June until Labor Day) — proved too tempting to pass up; he recently moved to Boca Raton, Fla., found a job as a valet at a nightclub to pay his bills and enrolled in one of the two training programs for umpires sanctioned by Major League Baseball.

Mr. Martinez, 33, who was one of the oldest students in his class, acknowledges that some of his friends in New Jersey consider him “absolutely crazy.”


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