Umpire Gary Darling Makes the Perfect Call

MLB Umpire Gary Darling

MLB Umpire Gary Darling

Awaiting my flight to the next city, I was greeted by a post in my inbox from an attendee of a recent Washington National’s game. This particular game was dedicated to our men and women in the Armed Forces and all of those who have served our great Country. It was written by a Craig Fifer and the message resonated right off the page. Fifer writes,

“Halfway through last night’s Nationals game, I happened to notice home plate umpire Gary Darling walk over to an usher, hand him a game ball, and point to someone in the crowd. The usher made his way through the stands until he reached a service member in a wheelchair who had lost a leg, and handed him the ball. The usher pointed to the field, and Darling gave a big thumbs up. In a crowd of tens of thousands, it was a private moment I was privileged to witness. Thank you to all those whose service and sacrifice around the world makes it possible for the rest of us to go watch baseball games. And thank you to Gary Darling for taking a moment last night to help remind me of that.”

Umpires are measured against an impossible standard – perfection. Each umpire readily embraces this and forever strives to achieve it, regardless of its actual or perceived impossibility. Our singular goal for every game is simple – be perfect.

It was a simple gesture, not designed to garner any attention. Just a baseball from his ball bag and a quick thumbs up to say “thank you for your service.”

Gary Darling walked onto the field that night, just as he does every game, intending his every call to be, perfect. Through the multitude of screaming fans, well beyond the playing field which is his place of intense concentration, Darling caught sight of someone who had sacrificed everything. Sacrifice which comes only to those who think of others first, and only to those who truly embrace Duty, Honor and Country. It was a simple gesture, not designed to garner any attention. Just a baseball from his ball bag and a quick thumbs up to say “thank you for your service.”

That night a wounded veteran, a nearby fan and an umpire remind us of the true meaning of perfection. It is a reminder that while we are not all perfect – we are, perfectly human.

Gary Darling is the President of UMPS CARE Charities. You can read Craig Fifer’s full post here.

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Welcome to the official blog of UMPS CARE Charities. Its purpose is to share personal insights on umpiring and the community outreach activities in an effort to generate inspiration and interest in the many programs of this Major League Umpire charity.

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21 Responses to “Umpire Gary Darling Makes the Perfect Call”

  1. Tony Siani Says:

    Gary is probably the most caring individual that I have ever met in my lifetime, and I am very proud to call him, “friend”.

  2. Gil Says:

    The Umpire Ejection Fantasy League is proud to announce Gary Darling has been named our League’s Honorable Umpire of the Year.

    Thank you for sharing this touching story, Craig and Mike, and thank you for all that you do.

  3. Matt Says:

    @michael check my response to Robin in lets play 2.

  4. Michael Says:

    I have to give it to you Gary and to Mike! That being said how can Umpires that do HS and some college get invovled in the Organization? I look forward to your replies

    Take care and God Bless,


  5. Mike Di Muro Says:

    Thanks to everyone for your comments and response to this story. It has been the most read and the most shared (Facebook and Twitter) of any post on Thank you so much for supporting UMPS CARE Charities!

  6. Jeremy Says:

    Mike, very awesome all around. I am glad Craig noticed this small yet, significantly honorable act by Gary Darling. It is great when someone like yourself brings attention to stories like this, when you are in position to. It is also great when people like Craig notices these meaningful acts, and excellent when people like Gary Darling recognize such people who made great sacrifices and made a gesture as you say is “simple,” yet is priceless for the person to be on the receiving end of this gesture. It is beyond comprehension though, the selfless act this service member has made.

    These are the best stories.

  7. Craig Fifer Says:

    Mike, I’m very happy that you saw my post and shared it with the umpire community. I’ve loved baseball since I was a little kid, and for some reason I’ve always felt a connection to the officials. I even dressed as an umpire for Halloween when I was about eight years old (complete with a “plate brush” I borrowed from a barbershop) and collected umpire trading cards.

    As an adult, I umped youth baseball for a couple of years, for kids the same age I was when I first got into the sport. It wasn’t an easy job, but I felt like each child was an opportunity to be a role model. Now, as a Nationals season ticketholder, I have the chance to watch MLB umpires in action on a regular basis. Gestures like Gary giving that veteran a game ball demonstrate how umpires can serve as role models even for grownups.

    Bruce Froemming once said, “One of the really wrong theories about officiating is that a good official is one you never notice.” I’m glad I noticed Gary on Monday, and I’m glad you noticed that I did.

  8. David Cordell Says:

    Love this story – also the umpire made sure one of the vets on the field in the starting line up got to shake hands with Jason Werth. Makes me appreciate the umpires

  9. Mike Di Muro Says:

    I know your Dad well and something like this would have certainly gone unnoticed had Craig Fifer not seen it and posted it. Those in our profession are fortunate to have people like your Dad in it and represent us. But more importantly, you have an amazing father!

  10. Carol McNally Says:

    Gary is a true gentleman and a dedicated professional. I’m not surprised by this thoughtful gesture on his part. He is a caring individual and I’m glad to be able to call him a friend. Our service men and women need more recognition for all they do for us. Good for you Gary!

  11. Karen Craxton Says:

    I’ve known Gary since I was a young girl. I even danced with him on his wedding day. He has always been someone who thinks of others. He uses his unique job as an umpire to bless others. I’m not surprised to read this but I am proud to know him. Thanks for posting such a positive story and one that captures Gary’s character well.

  12. Courtney Darling Says:

    Gary is my dad and hearing a story like this makes me proud. I know for a fact that my dad would never do this for attention, simply because this is the first I am hearing of it (I will be sure to bring this up to him later). I have always had such respect for this profession and know that any other umpire on the field would have done the same as my dad.

  13. matt Says:

    Thanks Mike! That means a lot coming from you. In two weeks I start umpiring again. I cant wait, its been a long winter.

    Hadn’t heard that before, so I was a little unsure how to take it. Hard to tell over the web sometimes!

  14. Ted Barrett Says:

    Thanks Mike for a great story. As you pointed out, I am sure Gary did not mean for anyone else to notice his gesture. He did this for one reason, to pay respect to someone who sacrificed so much for us. I am, like Bill Miller, so very proud of major league umpires. This is why I call these men “my brothers.” Keep the great stories coming!

  15. Mike Di Muro Says:

    Perceptive is a good thing! You are thinking like an umpire and I like it!

  16. matt Says:

    Agreed Mike. Not sure what you mean by percecptive comment. Hope it didnt come off the wrong way. Like you said it makes it that much more special.

  17. Mike Di Muro Says:

    Robin – thank you so much! I remember that game, back when I was living in your neck of the woods.

  18. Robin N. Says:

    Priceless and poignant story. Thanks for sharing.

    BTW, I still have the ball you tossed me between innings at Mets vs. Dbacks game several years ago. It’s a keeper!

  19. Mike Di Muro Says:

    Matt – a very perceptive comment. We rarely pay attention to what goes on in the stands during the course of the game. I think that is what makes what Gary Darling did so unique and special. Thanks for commmenting!

  20. matt Says:

    Awesome story Mike. Didnt realize Gary Darling was umps care president. Do you notice fans in the stands much? I always thought you guys never paid much attention to the crowds.

  21. Bill Miller Says:

    Thanks Mike for once again putting umpires in good light. It makes me proud of my profession.

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