If you follow baseball, you know that minor leaguers put up with long bus rides, but they keep fighting to keep their dream alive: becoming a major leaguer.

But have you ever thought about umpires? They go through the same travails in trying to climb up the minor league ladder until they reach the big leagues.

One person who has been a minor league ump since 2016 is a 47 year old New Jersey resident who is poised to make baseball history if the call up comes. Why? Because the umpire in question, Jen Pawol, is female, and there has never been a female MLB umpire.


Born in West Milford, New Jersey, Pawol’s journey to the diamond began on the fields of her high school, where she excelled as a multi-sport athlete. Her talent and passion for softball earned her a scholarship to Hofstra, where she became an All-American.

Pawol’s transition from player to umpire was fueled by her love for the game and a desire to remain connected to the sport after her playing days. She began umpiring softball games to earn extra money during college, a decision that would set her on a path to making history.

In 2016, Pawol’s umpiring career took a significant leap forward when she attended the Minor League Baseball Umpire Training Academy. By 2023, she was making calls at the Triple-A level (one rung below the majors), the firsrt woman to do so in 34 years. This Spring she became only the third woman to umpire is spring training.

Little League Baseball on Pitching Mound Close Up

She is now on the “call up” list; if a major league umpire needs to be replaced, she could get the call to become the big leagues’ first female umpire in a regular season game.

She told the Philadelphia Inquirer she’s getting a lot of encouragement, “I hear a lot of ‘You’re going to do it. You’re going to be the first one. Keep going.’”

Stay tuned!

Baseball in shadows
Thomas Northcut

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