Geoff Arnold ’10 has major-league ambitions
by Hillary Leeb ’10
May 4, 2010
NCAA-certified umpire Geoff Arnold ’10 calls games throughout central Pennsylvania. To test each participant's judgment calls, the NCAA exam had questions in it that weren’t even in the rule book, he says.
Interested in getting into an industry where you fly first class, stay in hotels like the Ritz-Carlton and get up close and personal with some of the most famous baseball players of our generation? Try umpiring for Major League Baseball (MLB).
But be forewarned—only about 1 percent of aspiring umpires reach the top, making it harder to become an MLB umpire than to become one of the players they call. Leave it to political-science major Geoff Arnold ’10 to be excited about this challenge, though.
Arnold has loved baseball for as long as he can remember, but his passion for umpiring was sparked while attending one of his first games at age 5. The loyal Phillies fan saw the men in the blue shirts behind home base and was enamored with the way they controlled the game. He knew then that this was the career path for him.
He umpired his first game at age 12 and has been working his way up since then. Arnold attended the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring in Kissimmee, Fla., and the International Umpires Camp in Atlanta, where he gained knowledge and experience as well as an NCAA certification. He recently was accepted into the Chesapeake Basin Collegiate Baseball Umpires Association.
Arnold has enough experience to know what makes a good umpire and what isn't going to cut it. Among the qualities he thinks will open doors to the major leagues, he lists “knowledge of the rules, good judgment and an ability to handle stressful situations.”
WDCV, the college’s radio station, also has benefited from Arnold’s passion for baseball through his broadcasting of Red Devil games. His play-by-play and sports-director experience has landed him internships with both CBS and ESPN radio. He plans to juggle umpiring and sports broadcasting this summer.
Next January, Arnold will return to the Jim Evans Academy for a five-week umpiring program. Held in the Houston Astros’ spring-training facility, the program will reinforce the rules of the game as well as evaluate and strengthen the judgment calls of each participant. After the course, he will umpire in the minor leagues for about seven years before he is eligible to work in the major leagues.
With the support of his friends and family, Arnold is confident about beating the odds. “I think I’ve got a shot,” he says.