Yesterday, the Detroit Tigers played a Spring Training exhibition game against Florida Southern, beating them by a final score of 6-1.
But the most exciting part of the game was not a defensive highlight or a towering home run (or even the fact that HOLY CRAP BASEBALL IS BACK!). Instead, it was the presence of Jen Pawol, one of two female umpires in pro baseball, calling balls and strikes behind the plate:
— Chris McCosky (@cmccosky) February 22, 2018
According the Detroit News, Pawol had spent more than a decade umpiring Division I baseball and softball, before being identified by an MLB executive three years ago who asked if she’d like to join professional baseball. After working her way through umpire school she got a job in the Gulf Coast League in 2016, where she’s been working the last two seasons.
“Unbelievable,” she said. “Just really excited now that I got through it. It took like three-years’ worth of professional work to get here. I went out there pretty confident and I feel pretty good how the day went.”
Pawol, 41, isn’t quite ready to make the leap to the Majors (CBS Sports writes that it takes most Minor League umpires ten years before getting the promotion), but she is clearly on her way.
In 2018, you can probably expect to see Pawol calling games in the Grapefruit League.