Jen Pawol Takes Field in Spring Training Game

Groundbreaking female umpire will work behind the plate next
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2024 10:05 AM CST
Jen Pawol Takes Field in Spring Training Game
Umpire Jen Pawol, second from left, stands with fellow umpires, from left, Edwin Jimenez, Ryan Additon, and Lance Barksdale before a spring training baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros on Saturday in West Palm Beach, Florida.   (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

It took eight years, but Jen Pawol has made the leap from the minors to a major league game spring training contest as an umpire. Pawol worked the Grapefruit League opener Saturday between the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals in West Palm Beach, Florida. The debut marked the first time since 2007 that a woman umpired a major league spring training game. With a ponytail coming out of her ballcap, Pawol was stationed at third base as the game began, the AP reports. After the usual pregame meeting with the umpires and managers at home plate, the group posed for pictures. Nationals manager Dave Martinez shook Pawol's hand and chatted with her.

"I greatly appreciate everyone's enthusiasm, everyone's welcoming attitude on the field,'' Pawol said after the 7-4 Astros victory before 3,655 fans, adding that both managers and many players congratulated her. With a rotation set for every three innings, Pawol switched to second base in the fourth, then to first base in the seventh. Across the next few weeks, Pawol, 47, will be based in Palm Beach County to work other spring training games. No woman has ever been assigned to umpire a regular season game in the majors. Pawol has no timetable on when that might happen for her.

On Sunday, Pawol will call balls and strikes, moving behind the plate in Jupiter for the Nationals-Marlins game. Pawol's most noteworthy maneuver Saturday occurred at the start of the bottom of the fourth inning, per the AP, when she stopped play after noticing the Astros didn't have a centerfielder. "Tomorrow I got to get out there and do it all over again," Pawol said. "This is a viable career becoming a professional umpire—men and women, girls and boys." Crew chief Lance Barksdale called the debut "a neat experience," adding, "She's earned this opportunity to get here." (More MLB stories.)

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