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Jimmy Scott's High & Tight: The (MLB Umpire) Hunter Wendelstedt Interview
I've heard that it's hard to get in touch with umpires, and then to get them to talk is even harder. While it took a little time to get veteran MLB umpire Hunter Wendelstedt to sit down and spend an hour on the phone, it didn't take much effort at all to get him to talk. I guess if a manager is yelling profanities three inches away from your face, talking to Jimmy Scott is a walk in the park.
Brian McRae, Jason Grilli, Ed Sprague - These are sons of former Major Leaguers interviewed here in the past. Hunter is the son of Harry Wendelstedt, another veteran MLB umpire, who called balls and strikes for 32 years. Is life growing up in the home of an umpire the same as growing up the son of an MLB player? The answer may surprise you. In fact, Hunter has a number of surprises up his sleeves, from expressing how umpires love to talk but are never asked any questions to how any umpire needs to spend a minimum 6 years in the minor leagues before getting considered for a Major League calup. Hunter details us on The Life of an umpire. There's the constant travel, the years of financial debt they accumulate while working the minor league circuit, and, to their benefit, zero temptation from lovely Umpire Groupies, since there are no Umpire Groupies at all.
"You can't hide a good umpire and you can't hide a bad umpire." This is a phrase Hunter says more than once. He knows this not just from his big league experience but also because of his being an instructor at the Harry Wendelstedt School for Umpires. Started by his father, the school is literally the go-to place if you want a shot at umpiring in the Major Leagues. Hunter talks about the school and specifically why you never see any umpires with tongue piercings and dreadlocks.
What about scandals? After the NBA referee scandal of a couple years ago, does Hunter think the same could happen in baseball? He gives a great answer that really makes you think.
Finally, do umpires go through the same marriage difficulties as players? Groupies aside, we're still talking about 6 months straight of being on the road (while players play 81 home games, umpires don't share that same luxury). If the divorce rate in baseball marriages is high, does that translate into umpire marriages? "That's the one question I'll tap dance around," Hunter says. Then he goes on and answers it, no tap shoes required. Another surprise.
We talk life lessons, how to deal with nasty crowds and nastier players, managers & coaches. We talk umpire contracts and the perception that all umpires are old, fat, ugly and bald. We talk about it all. So put on your listening device, slap a smile on your face and prepare yourself for a lesson in baseball, from someone who's just about seen it all, Hunter Wendelstedt.
Neil Young - Southern Man
No Doubt - Simple Kind of Life
Blood, Sweat & Tears - Spinning Wheel
Tears For Fears - Goodnight Song
Bryan Adams - I Fought The Law (Live)
Alan Parsons Project - Genesis, I Robot, Pipeline
Pride & Prejudice - Music from the motion picture Soundtrack
Chris Botti - Regroovable, Drive Time, First Wish
The Eagles - I Dreamed There Was No War
Peter Frampton - Do You Feel Like I Do (Live)
Tears For Fears - Gas Giants
Field of Dreams Soundtrack - End Credits