Umpire Camp is open to everyone
Husband and wife honing their skills at weeklong camp
COMPTON, Calif. -- At the Major League Baseball Umpires Camp being held this week, Katrina Gonzalez is just another high school umpire learning from the best in the business on how to do her job better. She sits through two and a half hours of classroom work every morning with the other 41 umpires who have come from around the world to attend this one week umpiring boot camp.
Katrina wears the same clothes as everyone else -- white Umpire Camp shirt, black pants, black shoes -- and goes through the same drills, with no preferential treatment because of her gender. The entire experience has been great for Katrina and her husband, Ruben, who also umpires and is also attending the camp.
"The instructors here are just fine-tuning everything," Katrina said. "They are very organized here. Some of the classes that we've been to in the past, they are teaching us different, like contradicting themselves -- here they are all teaching at the same level, so it makes it easier."
"I like this a lot," Ruben said. "It gives you the basics again, so you just refine it, but you also pick up the little fine-tuning tips that they give us, you know, the umpires, with their experience -- it's a lot of fun."
Ruben, who is a school teacher and Katrina, a personal trainer, have two daughters, who got involved in softball in South Bay area of Los Angeles where they live. The couple started umpiring their kids' games, found they liked it and gradually moved up the ranks.
"I was doing the South Bay high school level for two years more than her, but during summer ball, when they do American Legion, they did put us together a lot, so we were umpiring a lot there," Ruben said. "This does keep us together because we both have the same interests, and it's not like I'm away from home a lot because she's here."
The Gonzalez's not only love umpiring, but they are also fans of the Major League umpires and visit them often at Dodger Stadium and other ballparks.
"We go to Dodger Stadium, Angel Stadium, we went to Denver, San Diego -- we'll travel," Katrina said. "We've seen a lot of Ted Barrett this year and Larry Young -- it's just a lot of fun for us."
For Katrina, being a female umpire has never really been a problem when dealing with players and coaches.
"They're actually nicer to me," said Katrina, with a big smile. "It's never really been a problem. Every once in a while you hear an 'ugh,' but that's part of the game. It's fine."
"They both have a great attitude," said Rich Rieker, the Umpire Camp coordinator. "I taught at umpire school for over 16 years, and they may be the only husband and wife couple I have ever seen. It's an inspiration around here to see how well they get along, plus they are the only two students we allow to hold hands in class."
All kidding aside, Katrina has impressed the umpires with her skill and work ethic.
"She's intent on wanting to learn," said former Major League umpire Steve Palermo, who is one of the instructors this year. "Katrina wants to be involved as everyone else, she has some pretty good mechanics and she has a pretty good idea of where to go."
"All the umpires have been great here," Katrina said. "They are critiquing me a lot. It's all positive feedback and it's just helping me get better."
And isn't that what camp is all about?
Ben Platt is a national correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.