Call goes to umpire |

Call goes to umpire

Michael Traum

Umpires spend their lives making calls. Last week, South Lake Tahoe ump Brad Hungerford was on the receiving end.

Of a phone call, that is, one that every young baseball blue eagerly awaits. It was the president of the Prairie League, a AA affiliated short-season league in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Southern Canada.

There was a spot available, and Hungerford, 24, was their man.

“Brad had a lot of persistence and has a great desire to succeed in baseball,” said league president Dave Ferguson. “He finished high up in his (umpiring school) class. That’s an attitude I can live with.”

So on Thursday Hungerford packed his bags and headed North, with his first outing of a 74-game schedule beginning this weekend.

“I was hoping I’d go somewhere. It’s the start of a career I’ve wanted since I was 12 years old,” Hungerford said. “It’s hard to describe the feeling.”

Hungerford graduated 21st out of 150, along with scoring 100 percent on the rules test, at Harry Wendelstedt’s professional school in Daytona Beach last February. After completing a 77-game college season in the Peach Belt and Gulf South conferences in Alabama, Hungerford came home and was calling local Babe Ruth games when the good news came.

“We had been talking for about a month. I was hoping a spot would open up,” Hungerford said. “This is going to give me great experience. I’m not stopping until I get to the show.”

Hungerford will work in a two-man crew with his umpiring school roommate, Noel Harthcock. He’ll join Harthcock Friday and travel together by car for 74 games in 78 days.

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