PACE— Dylan Bradley is one of 23 umpire hopefuls to earn a spot in Minor League Baseball after seven weeks of training in South Florida.
The 25-year-old has lived in Pace since he was a toddler and graduated from Pace High in 2010.
Here, we catch up with Bradley on his life and accomplishments.
How long have you been involved with baseball?
I've been involved with baseball the majority of my life. I started playing T-ball when I was 5 and played until I was 14, but I've always been a fan of the game.
Have you always wanted to be an umpire?
I didn't know anything about umpiring until my Uncle (Brian Moore) came to me when I was 20 and told me I could make a little extra money throughout the week calling Little League games. I had a good knowledge of the game so it wasn't too difficult to pick up on. I eventually got into high school baseball when I was 21 and have been doing that ever since. I didn't know umpiring was what I really wanted to do until I was 23-24. I had many veteran umpires tell me I should try going to pro school; that's when I thought I could make something out of it.
What was Minor League Baseball training like?
The Umpire Academy was an experience I will never forget. Everything I thought I knew about umpiring was out the window; it was like starting from scratch. It's so much more serious than people think. We spent four hours a day in the classroom, going through the rule book, and five hours on the field doing drills. We did that six days a week for four weeks. It was very strenuous and exhausting, but I learned a lot about myself.
What kind of practice goes into umpiring?
Most people think that outs, safes, balls and strikes are the only things umpires need to know to do their job. That is far from the truth. Knowledge of the rule book is essential, so studying frequently and testing yourself are very important. Appearance is also big. That doesn't just mean having clothes that are clean and that fit properly. It's your whole demeanor while on the field and how you present yourself on and off the field.
How do you feel about being one of the 23 chosen to join Minor League Baseball umpires?
I am blessed to be one of the 23 who were chosen, it was really a God thing. I'm usually pretty quiet and conservative. Being an umpire is the opposite of that; definitely had to step out of my comfort zone, which was the hardest thing for me. Our class was the first in the history of the umpire academy to not have one student drop out or quit. It was really a blessing; I never would've even considered going to school had it not been for my two mentors here in Pensacola (Brian Moore and Phil Blake). They are the reason I was one of the 23 selected.
Will you be moving to South Florida permanently or just for the season?
MiLB is flying me into St. Petersburg on June 24. Our league meeting will be on June 25. The season starts on June 26. I am in the Gulf Coast League, which is one of two leagues associated with rookie ball, the other being the Arizona League. My season is from June 26 to Sep. 2, I believe. I will come back to Pensacola in September and be here until my next assignment, which I am unsure when or what that will be.
Besides umpiring, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
In my free time I enjoy golfing; playing basketball; working out; watching my favorite TV shows, "Family Guy" and "The Office"; and of course, going to the beach.