Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School
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The Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School umpires for professional baseball is the only independently run professional umpire training program recognized by the Minor Leagues and Major Leagues. It is located in Ormond Beach, Florida. It runs for five weeks each early January through early February. The school is open to both males and females; the only female ever to work a Major League Baseball spring training game, Pam Postema, graduated from the school, as have a number of other female professional umpires.
During the course, students learn every phase of officiating in the 2-man umpiring system, which is used in the Rookie through high-A levels of the minor leagues. Many concepts, such as positioning and coverages, are taught on the field at the beginning of the session in something of a shock immersion program. After this initial period, those fundamentals are drilled over and over so that they become automatic for the prospective umpires. All of these concepts and drills conform to the requirements of the minor leagues, who rely solely on the umpire schools for new officials.
While as much time as possible is spent on the field, there is also a substantial classroom element to the course. The entire rulebook is covered in detail, and tests are given on most days. Class hours are from about 8:30 am to 11:00 on days with good weather, with the rest of the day given to instruction on the field. In years with lots of sunny weather, evening class sessions may be held as well, as on-field instruction is always given priority.
At the end of the school, a certain number of prospects are chosen to go to another vetting school, this one run directly by the minor leagues, which makes final selections for who continues into the minors.
The Wendelstedt Umpire School has produced more Major League umpires than all other schools in history, combined. It currently has fourteen full-time Major League umpires and a number of Minor League umpires on its staff. The current Major League umpires that are/have been instructors at the school include: Lance Barksdale, Gerry Davis, Dana DeMuth, Doug Eddings, Bruce Froemming, Greg Gibson, Brian Gorman, Ed Hickox, John Hirschbeck, Sam Holbrook, Ron Kulpa, Jerry Layne, Randy Marsh, Chuck Meriwether, Paul Nauert, Charlie Reliford, Brian Runge, Larry Vanover, Tim Welke, and Hunter Wendelstedt.