Coronavirus: Virus causing shortage of umpires

In this photo an umpire stares at a scoreboard.

Fewer umpires are working this baseball and softball season because of coronavirus.

Bob Juliano, a sports assigner, said of his 180 umpires, about 60 percent decided not to work this year because of health and financial concerns. He said some do not want to risk giving up their unemployment benefits by officiating while others are worried about getting the virus.

“The uncertainty of the COVID-19 is scaring people away or keeping them from committing,” Juliano said.

Ray Bradshaw, who has been an umpire six years, decided to bench himself this season.

“I found out in March that I have an underlining condition that does not go well with COVID,” Bradshaw said.

He is also concerned about passing the virus on to his 70-year-old mother.

Juliano said, because of the pandemic, he has had to cancel about a dozen of his 400 games.

The umpire shortage the virus is causing is only making the problem worse. Juliano said he was already dealing with a shortage partly because of how parents and players treat sports officials.

“Most of them don’t last more than two years, three years, because they’re chased off,” Juliano said.

Juliano is also concerned about having enough referees for football, basketball and other sports when school starts back up.