Adventures in Umpire School, part 1: The Clothes

Here’s a result from the first page of Google results for “woman umpire clothes.”  First, that’s not even an umpire; that’s a referee.  Second, I’m pretty sure stilettos aren’t regulation.

I expected there’d be some hiccups in my attendance of umpire school.  There usually are, when you do something that usually only men do.  But I didn’t expect the first hiccup to be in the application.

See, one of the questions on the application is “what size uniform do you wear?”  And the answers?  Are all men’s sizes.

So not only did I need to figure out what size I was (virtually every woman knows that the only size she can be sure of is her shoe size), I had to figure it out in men’s clothes?


The first thing I did was email the school and see if they had a size conversion chart or something.  I know there aren’t too many female umpires currently, but I also know that other women have attended the school before, so I figured maybe they would know how to do the conversion based on prior experience.

They did not.

They were kind enough to put me in touch with the retail provider of their uniforms, though.

…and that retailer also did not have conversion charts.  Apparently, it’s not a question that comes up very often.

So, long story short, I ended up ordering a few hundred dollars worth of grey polyester pleated pants (after making sure I understood the return policy backwards and forwards), so that I could try them on and figure out what size I am.

Is this a big deal?  Not really.

But it is an example of a barrier to entry for women umpires that doesn’t exist for men.  Keep in mind, I had to lay out $300 of my own money, at least temporarily, before I could even sign up for umpire school.  I’m fortunate enough that I had both the money and the time to do that.  A lot of people applying to umpire school don’t have $300 they can afford to lose access to for a month while they figure out the answer to that question.  And, if you’re a man, you don’t have to.

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