Garret Griffin became a baseball umpire to stay involved with the sport.
“I always tell people that I became an ump because it pays better than playing and I never lose,” the 2014 Little Wolf High School graduate said. “Both are true, but in all seriousness, I took up umpiring after I broke my wrist in my junior year of wrestling. I decided then that I wanted to focus on wrestling, my true passion, and stay involved with baseball through umpiring.”
The son of Pete and Mary Griffin, of Manawa, had an opportunity to call a game Aug. 10 at Miller Park in Milwaukee, as he umpired the State Legion All-star Game with Jon Buelow and Nick Betts.
Two local players – New London’s Jake Pinch and Clintonville’s Turner Doornink – were selected to play in the game, which features Wisconsin’s top Legion baseball players.
“This is my second year of umpiring higher-level baseball,” Griffin said. “I am often told by coaches that I look like I have been doing it for years. To be quite honest, when I am on the field, I feel that way as well.”
The game followed the Milwaukee Brewers’ matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“Before the game, my crew and I got to meet ‘Big Country’ Joe West and his crew of professional umpires who worked the Brewers game,” Griffin said. “That was an awesome experience and I got a taste of what being a big-league umpire was all about.”
Griffin admits that taking the field at Miller Park initially made him a little nervous.
“During the first inning, my heart was pounding and all I could think of was how I was going to screw up the first rotation and blow a call right away,” he said. “Since we were working in a three-man crew instead of the normal two-man crew, I was a bit out of my comfort zone.”
Griffin, who is heading to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, said he’ll never forget the experience.
“Umpiring at Miller Park was an honor and a privilege,” he said. “I will never forget that moment and I cannot think of a better way to end a long season.
“I felt like I belonged there,” he added. “The game went off without a hitch and I made sure to soak in every out and every inning like it would be the last.”
Griffin has aspirations of becoming a professional umpire down the road.
“I plan on attending Professional Umpires School in Florida following graduation from La Crosse,” he said. “I am going to work diligently to get hired and work my way up through the ranks so that the next time I umpire at Miller Park, it will be for the Brewers themselves.”