SW grad Brewer attending umpiring school

Having your hometown be the site of the Little League World Series every year can often times give a young player dreams of playing under the bright lights of Volunteer or Howard J. Lamade Stadiums, lacing up the cleats in front of thousands of people who are all there to see you play. Or maybe it’s taking the biggest stage of them all by becoming a professional baseball player and playing in the World Series.

South Williamsport native Bryce Brewer has a different dream than most kids in this area: the dream of someday not lacing up the cleats, but putting on the mask as a Major League Baseball Umpire.

“I first started playing baseball when I was five and played for about 10 years before I umpired full time,” Brewer said. “My dream game would be to umpire a World Series game. That would be awesome.”

Brewer has been given the chance to make his dream come true. As of last Wednesday, he’s been attending the Harry Wendelstedt School of Umpiring. The school is four weeks long and will run until Feb. 3. The Wendelstedt school has produced more professional umpires than any other school.

If Brewer can fight his way into the top 30 in a class of 125, he could find himself working in Minor League Baseball within the next year.

Every lesson learned, skill obtained and obstacle conquered will be enhanced during his time at the Wendelstedt school and provide him with endless opportunities.

“What follows umpire school is if you are selected out of around 125 students, usually about 30 are selected to stay an extra week for an advanced course, then you will work your way up the ladder through the minor leagues until you get your shot at the MLB and hopefully will be promoted to the full-time staff,” Brewer said. “There are no guarantees, though.”

Like most young ballplayers, Brewer has always studied the game, just from a different perspective. Instead of watching Derek Jeter slide and make a jump throw to first base or Sammy Sosa launch a home run and hop down the first-base line, Brewer was studyed the movements and energy of MLB umpires. That included John Tumpane, who is most recently known for saving a woman from jumping off the Roberto Clemente Bridge in Pittsburgh last season.

“I first started umpiring when I was 14-years-old. I worked a South Williamsport juniors game and fell in love ever since. I have been studying all different levels of baseball from Little League to high school to American Legion and anything in between since I was 14,” Brewer said. “But I must say I love umpiring more than I do playing. I have always been more interested in the umpiring than playing the game itself.”

As many collegiate baseball players return from winter break to start hitting the cages for their spring season, Brewer already has the jump on his training. As of Jan. 2, Brewer has hit the classroom to study everything and anything there can be known about being a professional umpire. Brewer will receive classroom training as well as on-field work over the four-week class.

“The school lasts around four weeks (five weeks if you are selected for the advanced course) and it covers any and all aspects of umpiring. And believe me, there are a lot and they are picky about everything,” Brewer said.

Brewer has not been shy from the big moment, even as a young umpire. The South Williamsport native had the chance of a lifetime when he was awarded the opportunity to work a game during the Little League World Series in August.

“The biggest game I have worked so far is that I had the opportunity to work the plate for a Little League World Series crossover game between Australia and Canada back in August,” Brewer said. “It was the best moment in my young career so far.”

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