Dear Sun Spots: We love your column! You never know what will show up and what new tidbit you’ll learn.

So, here’s an odd trivia question. How much do major league umpires earn? Do they work as a team of umpires? How much do they have to travel? How much do they work in one year? How are they chosen?

Just pondering these questions as we look forward to the season starting! Thanks for your help. – Lida Iles, No Town.

Answer:
What great questions, Lida! Sun Spots also looks forward to those unique questions and what she can also learn.

While not a sports fan (sorry!), Sun Spots found your questions fascinating. Here’s what she learned and hopefully this will assist you and other baseball fans before the April 1 Opening Day:

According to www.umpire academy.com, minor leagues are an internship for both players and umpires. Minor league salaries range from $1,800 to $3,500 per month. Major league annual salaries range from $120,000 to $350,000 and are among the top 3 percent of wage earners in the world. It’s a long road, though, for umpires and www.cnnmoney.com notes that umpires generally spend between eight to 12 years officiating minor league games before they can even be considered for major league territory.

Aspiring umpires must first attend a recognized umpire school for five weeks and then go on to an evaluation course run by the Professional Baseball Umpire Corp (PBUC) which will hire some and put the rest on reserve. As might be expected, potential umpires require immense overall knowledge of the game. The PBUC evaluates, trains and supervises umpires in the minor leagues.

They conduct evaluation courses for umpire school graduates to determine those qualified for professional placements.

Once in the professional system, the umpire is observed and supervised by PBUC staff.Supervisors prepare report cards throughout the season to determine if those can be recommended for advancement to higher levels or be released.

Umpires who are not promoted to the next level every two years are usually expected to leave.

Those who make it have three years to impress the major league clubs. If they don’t they’re out. There are 229 umpires in the minor leagues but only 68 in the majors. Between spring training and baseball season, umpires are technically on duty for 31 weeks. Constant travel is involved, and games occurring nearly daily with maybe a free day twice a month.

Did you know:

• The New York Yankees became the first team to use numbers on uniforms. They did so on Jan. 22, 1929. Their reasoning was that fans in the stands would have an easier time recognizing players on the field if they could use the numbers for reference.

The first numbering system was simple. Players were assigned numbers based on where they batted in the lineup. For example, Babe Ruth batted third, so he wore No. 3. By the mid-1930s, numbers had caught on with all teams in baseball.

• In the earliest days of baseball, there was no rubber at the pitcher’s mound. Pitchers stood inside a six-foot square that looked much like today’s batter’s box.

The front line of the box was only 45 feet from the plate. (The batters were also allowed to call their pitches – high, low or fair.)

• The first baseball game to be broadcast on radio was Aug. 25, 1921, by Harold Alren of KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pa.

• Harry Hartman of Cincinnati became the first radio announcer to pioneer the phrase Going, Going, Gone! announcing a home run in 1929.

And Sun Spots would be mighty remiss not to mention those Sox players like those below:

• In 1947, Sox player Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play in the major leagues.

• Player Carl Yastrzemski, who was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989, is the only American League player with 400 home runs and 3,000 hits.

• Ted Williams was named Major League Baseball Player of the Decade for the 1950s.

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted.

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