TV Time Out

Lexington umpire gets World Series call

By: Steve Moss
By: Steve Moss

Sam Holbrook is used to pressure. As a major league umpire, Holbrook faces it daily, whether calling balls and strikes, or ruling on a bang-bang play at first.

Sam Holbrook is used to pressure.

As a major league umpire, Holbrook faces it daily, whether calling balls and strikes, or ruling on a bang-bang play at first.

When the Fall Classic gets underway on Wednesday, Holbrook finds himself on baseball's biggest stage: an umpire working the 2010 World Series.

"This is the biggest show in baseball," Holbrook said on Monday, just outside UK's Cliff Hagan Stadium.  "All eyes are going to be on the World Series."

Holbrook, who is a big UK fan, is one of two rookie umpires working his first World Series.  Already this postseason, Holbrook had a ringside seat to history: he was on the crew in Philadelphia when Roy Halladay threw a perfect game in the National League Division Series.

Gone are the days when the National League and American League had separate groups of umpires.  Today, all umpires work for the World Umpire Association.  The men working this year's World Series have been graded on performance.  Holbrook said seniority factors into the picks, as well.

"This is my first World Series.  I'm tickled to be selected to do it," he said.

Holbrook will work first base in Game 1, then move behind the plate for Game 2. 

He admits technology has added to the scrutiny that umpires now face. 

"The camera catches more than the human eye," Holbrook said.  But, he says, umpires get 99.9 percent of all calls right.

It's not been an easy year for Holbrook.  During spring training, his wife, Susie, was diagnosed with cancer. 

"She's doing wonderful," he said.

But now, his parents are ill.  His father is hospitalized.  Holbrook has spent much of his off days tending to his dad.

"Dad is struggling, but it's what they'd want me to do," he said.

Holbrook knows all too well the pressures of his profession.  After his rookie season as a major league umpire, Holbrook was out of baseball for three years, following a labor dispute in 1999. 

"I didn't know if I'd ever get to work another major league ballgame," Holbrook said.  "Then, to be here, working the World Series, everything has come full circle.  I feel blessed."

When the Giants and Rangers meet in this year's World Series, Sam Holbrook will have the best seat in the house.

Blessed, indeed.

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