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Interview with Mike Di Muro
I'm pleased to have Mike Di Muro join us for an interview. Mike is a 10 year veteran and has worked the 2000 NLDS, the 2005 All-Star Game, and the 2010 ALDS. Mike is also co-founder of Blue for Kids, which is now part of UMPS CARE. Thanks for giving us this opportunity.
Warren: You called Halladay’s perfect game earlier this year. Where does that rank among your career highlights?
Mike: It certainly is a career highlight that I won’t soon forget. A perfect game is such a rarity and the fact that only 20 of them have been recorded lends to its historic significance. As an umpire, you just happen to be the one back there when all the stars align and that pitcher and his team are absolutely perfect. I have never been one for umpire career highlights, but view it more as a privilege to be a part of such an incredible moment in baseball history.
Warren: How did you and your crew celebrate or what did your crew do for you after the game?
Mike: As a crew we went out and had a late dinner and a few beers. It was nice to talk about the game and experience it with the entire crew.
Warren: Tell us about your equipment. What type of helmet, chest protector, shins, shoes do you wear?
Mike: I wear the All Star helmet and the Wilson Gold chest protector and shin guards. For the last five years I have worn the Reebok plate shoes. The equipment has gotten so much better over the course of my career. I can remember starting in rookie ball 20 years ago with very thin equipment and really feeling the effects of it when you got hit. Today, with the advancement and technology of protective equipment, we are much better protected.
Warren: Have you made any modifications or had anything custom made?
Mike: No, everything fits well and comfortable, so I am fortunate that I did not have to make any major or minor modifications.
Warren: Do you have a particular favorite piece of equipment? If so, what is it and why.
Mike: I suppose my favorite piece of equipment is the Reebok plate shoes. They are so light and comfortable. Years ago, we used heavy steel toe boots and it made it tough when you were working a two-man system and running around quite a bit in those days. It really makes a difference now to be working behind the plate and having what is essentially a comfortable running shoe on. I began wearing a helmet style mask back in 2002 and have used a few different models over the years. This past season I started wearing the newly redesigned All Star helmet. It is extremely comfortable and provides great protection. This season in Milwaukee, Carlos Gomez swung and lost control of the bat. The barrel struck me square on the head and the helmet saved me from not only a serious injury, but beyond a headache, any injury at all.
Warren: Your umpiring story obviously begins with your father, but when did you actually begin umpiring and when was it that you decided you were going to make a shot at making the professional ranks?
Mike: I started umpiring when I was around 12 years old. After playing in my game, I would earn extra money umpiring the younger ages of our league. I remember one day, my Dad was home for a rare off day, and he came out to watch me umpire one of the games. Afterward, he showed me how to use the outside protector and gave me a few mechanical things to do. I think I am one of the rare kids in the world who actually grew up wanting to become a Major League Umpire. I stopped umpiring in high school and did not pick it up again until college. While attending the University of San Diego, I worked high school games around San Diego County. It was a great way to earn some extra money and see if it was still something that I wanted to do. We had some great guys in the local association who really loved the profession of umpiring and were always willing to help out the younger umpires. I made some great friends over the course of those years. Once graduating from USD, I attended the Jim Evans Academy and was fortunate enough to enter into the minor leagues that year.
Warren: Was it known while you were an amateur umpire that you came from an umpiring family? If so did you feel you were treated different because of it?
Mike: Most of the members of the association knew the family name, but I did not feel any special or poor treatment. It was a great group and I was glad to be a part of it.
Warren: Your brother Ray was also an umpire. At any point in your career did you get to work with him?
Mike: I was fortunate to work with Ray in the PCL for a season and then in 1997, we were both called up to work a series in Oakland. That really was a great thrill for me. We always enjoyed working together and then to have the opportunity to work a Major League game with him was just amazing.
Warren: Does your brother call and give you advice, critique you or just fulfill his brother obligations in giving you some grief about your umpiring?
Mike: We still talk umpiring sometimes, but mostly just the usual brother stuff. I am not sure how much baseball he is able to watch being so busy with his investment firm business in Arizona.
Warren: You were a co-founder of Blue for Kids back in 2004 after only 5 years in the big leagues. What was your inspiration for creating Blue for Kids?
Mike: Blue for Kids was born from Marvin Hudson and Samuel Dearth. Marvin had been working with at risk youth in his hometown for years and Samuel was a former minor league umpire who had worked with Marvin. It seemed that many of the umpires were doing various programs and events in their hometowns, but there was no structure or organization in place, which all MLB umpires could participate. The three of us got together over one off-season and Blue for Kids was born. Having grown up around baseball and having the opportunity to attend games was something I took for granted. It was not long into my Major League career that the realization set in that attending a Major League game was not something everyone had the opportunity to do. A whole host of cultural and monetary factors played a part in that, and forming Blue for Kids would give that opportunity to kids who otherwise would have been left out.
Warren: In 2008 Blue for Kids merged with UMPS CARE and has continued to grow, did you ever imagine this becoming as large as it has?
Mike: It has become such an important part of my life now and the growth of our programs and reach that we have attained is something that I could not have imagined happening so quickly. It is a testament to the efforts of every MLB umpire, but there is so much more that goes into making it such a success. Samuel was able to lay a strong organizational foundation during the first few years and it has enabled us to expand each year with greater ease and without the usual growing pains.
Warren: Tell us about one of your most memorable experiences working with Blue for Kids/ UMPS CARE.
Mike: There were two memorable experiences that I had and I wrote about them on the UMPS CARE blog. Here are the links:
Warren: One of the many things you do for UMPS CARE is write the UMPS CARE blog (http://umpscareblog.com/). How did you get into that?
Mike: In an effort to increase the awareness of the charity and to reach out to more people, we decided to launch the UMPS CARE blog. Our short-term goal was to have a series of meaningful articles and perspectives for the blog to help raise interest in the programs. We are looking at continuing that and adding additional content and formats for this year. I hope it is something that will continue to grow and gain interest in the future. You can expect more posts and articles in the upcoming season.