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I was talking to one of my fellow umpires in our association and he mentioned going to Cooperstown to umpire. He also mentioned that he was going with a team that sponsored him. I would like to ask a few questions to you guys that have "been there and done that"

1st- How does one go about getting sponsored by a team and also does the team pay the sponsored umpire?

2nd- Do you have to umpire more than 1 week or just the week that you are with that team?

3rd- I have seen on some of the posts that umpires are certified.... Do you have to be certified to call game, if so how do you get certified?

I'm sure I'll have many more questions but thank you in advance on any info you can give.


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@UmpireLT, where are you located?

Cooperstown Dreams Park is a Baseball Experience (think of an active Theme Park) for 12U baseball teams. It spans 13 weeks, with 104 teams attending each week, playing in a pool play leading to a seeded elimination bracket. They use 50-70 field dimensions, 200-ft fences, and a modified OBR ruleset. There are no pitching restrictions, either.

Umpires are not supplied by nor employed by the Park. The teams are "required" (open to interpretation) to "bring" an umpire each. This umpire could be a relative of a team member, a friend of the coaches or parents, an umpire of their league back home, or a contracted, sponsored umpire contacted through a variety of avenues. The sponsorship could  vary in amount and details, handled discreetly and on a per-team basis (PM any CDP veterans for specifics). If the model works as it's supposed to, there would be 104 umpires attending; sometimes, there have been 115-120, while they've struggled to get 78, in a week. A number that low puts a strain on coverage and workload.

To seek out a sponsorship, look locally first, then expand to regionally, then go nationally through websites like this and ump4hire.com . Once approved by CDP's office, you may attend for that week alone, or extend that to multiple weeks. They welcome the help! Just keep in mind, to make it worth your while, you'll want to have sponsorships for those subsequent weeks. In my six years of attendance, I've done 2-week, then 3, then 4, then 7, then 4, then 3-week stays.

Certification means nothing. It is not a qualifier for approval to attend as an umpire at CDP. The only requirements for Umpiring at CDP is that you are 18 or older, and subject to passing a background check – they have to be thorough on this point. You will find a wide range of umpire skill and experience levels, from 18-year old greenhorns doing Little League to 65+ year old former AAA MiLB and NCAA Power Conference umpires! And, sometimes that's inverted –  you'll have a 72-year old who has done nothing but LL or Legion ball for the past 30 years alongside a 22-year old fresh out of TUS. 

Needless to say, it varies.

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