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Jen Pawol close to becoming first female umpire in majors, placed on MLB call-up list for this season

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USA TODAY Sports

Jen Pawol is one step closer to becoming Major League Baseball’s first female umpire. Pawol has been named a Triple-A crew chief for the upcoming season and is on MLB’s call-up list, reports Newsday. Triple-A umpires are called up throughout the season when MLB umpires are injured or on vacation.

On Feb. 24, Pawol worked first, second, and third bases as part of the usual spring training umpire rotation for the Grapefruit League opener between the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals. In doing so, she became the first woman to umpire a spring training game since Ria Cortesio in 2007.

“I greatly appreciate everyone’s enthusiasm, everyone’s welcoming attitude on the field,” Pawol told the Associated Press after the game. “Tonight was very, very special. Both managers shared congratulations, welcoming, enthusiastic. The players on the field, so many said congrats and great to see you up here. A gentleman, Javier [Bracamonte, Astros bullpen coach], he ran out early in the game and said he has a daughter playing all kinds of sports. It’s good to see you out here.”

Once a star softball player at Hofstra, Pawol is based in Palm Beach County this spring and has worked several exhibition games. There is no set timetable for her MLB debut. Pawol is expected to be one of nine women to umpire minor league games in 2024. Her peers include Bernice Gera (1972), Christine Wren (1975-77), Pam Postema (1977-89) and Cortesio (1999-2007).

Pawol umpired NCAA softball from 2010-16 and was invited to the Umpire Training Academy after attending an MLB tryout camp in August 2015. She began her career in rookie ball in 2016 and has gradually climbed the minor-league ladder in recent years. Pawol worked Triple-A games in 2023.

MLB has 76 full-time umpires and will use 20 or so call-up umpires during a typical season.

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