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Jon Browar: MSBL World Series Umpire in Chief

By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications

Jon Browar is the 62 year old MSBL World Series Umpire in Chief who resides in Kansas City, Missouri.  Scheduling the 150 or so umpires who roam the desert for three weeks is no easy task and not for the faint of heart.  How does one attain such lofty status? 

"I starting umping in our Kansas City men’s league back in 1991 when I retired from my racing car parts business,” explained Browar.  "I also raced cars but was looking for something to fill that void and somebody recommended I start umpiring.  I had played ball and thought I knew the game but I had no idea what I was doing.  I started umpiring in our Kansas City men’s league and it evolved into high school, junior college, some division one and I eventually compiled a nice 17 or 18 year career in mostly division two.” 

As Jon explains, he was thrown squarely off the dock into the umpiring waters and had to either sink or swim.  He decided to swim.  Now he is in charge of scheduling a stable of over 250 umpires across the midwest for a couple of division two conferences and has also been asked to perform his magic for the MSBL in next year’s national tourneys in Palm Springs and Las Vegas, to go along with his duties here in Arizona.  He was not only the right guy in the right place in becoming our World Series Umpire in Chief, he was easily the most qualified.

"Lou Meyers was the umpire in chief when I started working games down here and he sort of liked me,” said Jon.  "Then Dick Jolly took over from Lou and when Dick retired four years ago they turned to me. I remain close friends with both Lou and Dick and without their help and trust I wouldn’t be here today.” 

One myth that needs to be addressed is the idea that Jon’s umpires are getting fat wallets by coming down here and working 20, 30 or 40 games.  As Lou Corso would say, ‘not so fast, my friend.’ 

‘If an umpire breaks even after his stint here, he or she is lucky,” explained Browar.  "I try to give as many games as possible to the traveling guys because of their expenses. I explain that to our local umpires and they understand that they will be assigned the games that are left. There are tremendous local umpires but I have to help the people traveling cross country to be here on their own nickel.  Our umpires are fiercely loyal and I want to take care of them because I know they are all very good at what they do and that makes the World Series a better experience for everyone.” 

"A lot of them just want to get away and experience the same atmosphere the players do on these facilities,” Jon continued.  "It really is a labor of love and their way of giving back to the sport. They are instructed to make the players time here a special time while remaining on top of their game.  I think my umpires accomplish that.”

As we continued to discuss the various instances that have popped up throughout the years I asked Jon what his biggest ‘Oh my God’ moment was over his current four year stint at the helm.  It didn’t take him long to answer.  "In my first year in charge I found out by accident that there were 40 games that mysteriously appeared that I hadn’t seen anywhere,” chuckled Browar. "I had 48 hours to schedule 40 games in addition to their already bulging schedules.  Welcome to Arizona, right?”

Now that Jon is recently fully retired he throws himself into his division two collegiate scheduling duties as well as the MSBL World Series preparations, which begin for him in July.  "The participants in the World Series need to rest assured that I take the approach that I am going to utilize the best umpires available to me,” Browar further explained.  "Not just numbers of guys to fill spots, but the absolute best of guys that I can trust completely.  I hope the players in this tournament know that I take it very seriously and that I’m going to always use the best available to me.  My guys all know that this is a business and not personal.  We don’t have a ‘good buddy’ system down here.”

"We have an umpires meeting every Saturday night and we discuss the good, the bad and the ugly.  We talk about certain circumstances, field events, rule interpretations and whatever needs discussing.  We don’t take this job lightly and our team is qualified to work either an over 65 game or an 18-over national.  Our job is to make the players experience a quality one and I know that my 150 umpires out there are qualified to do that.” 

Jon doesn’t have an assistant, he handles it alone for the most part.  Yes, he leans on certain guys to help him out when the squeaky wheel needs some grease but this is Jon’s show from start to finish.  "It is an honor to be asked to coordinate the umpires for the largest adult amateur baseball tournament in the world.  I am very humbled, and we won’t let you down.’

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