MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
By day, he is a mild-mannered Marine corporal working in the Combat Center’s Communications and Information Systems directorate, but during baseball season he dons a different uniform.
Cpl. Jeremiah Thalheimer, the special intelligence communications noncommissioned officer in charge, is currently an umpire in his third season for several leagues in the surrounding community as part of the California Baseball Umpires Association.
“I really love sports, but I can’t play very well,” said the Tifton, Ga., native. “I figured I could either be a sports writer or an official, so I chose to become an umpire.”
Thalheimer is a paid umpire for the local high schools and volunteers his time to oversee Little League games. He also serves as an umpire for both amateur and Triple Crown tournaments in the area.
On average, Thalheimer said he umpires 20 to 30 games per season, and has completed numerous formal training classes and scrimmage games.
“One thing a lot of people don’t realize is the amount of work we put into it,” he said. “At the high school level, you usually spend about five hours in a ‘rules class’ before you even set foot on the field. Then you have to attend another weekend rules clinic, which lasts about 10 more hours. After the classes, you have to umpire at least one scrimmage before you can be put into a live-game scenario.”
Although it is a tough job, other league volunteers think Thalheimer demonstrates excellence when he is behind home plate.
“He’s consistent and knowledgeable – I don’t think I’ve ever argued with him about a call he’s made,” said Petty Officer 1st Class David Gibson, a Little League coach and 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment’s battalion aid station lead petty officer. “I have no issues with him. This is my first year as a coach and I appreciate that he not only takes time out to volunteer, but he knows what he’s doing.
“Being an umpire isn’t exactly a glorious job,” added the Lake Station, Ind., native. “I just appreciate him coming out here on his free time and doing this for us.”
Jennifer Garcia, the Little League treasurer and league parent, said she has also enjoyed working with Thalheimer in the league.
“He’s always out here volunteering as an umpire,” said the Lake Elsinore, Calif., native. “I commend anyone who takes time out of their schedule to volunteer because it’s not about the parents or the adults, it’s about the children.
“I wish more Marines like him would come out,” she said. “A lot of people from the base come out here, but we’re always looking for new volunteers to help the kids.”
Despite the hard work and amount of time spent, Thalheimer said he is going to continue volunteering as a Little League umpire, and working as a high school and tournament umpire until the end of his Marine Corps contract.
“I do it because I love the game,” he said. “I just really enjoy baseball. My dream one day would actually have to be to be an umpire in the World Series.”
After the Marine Corps, he hopes to enter either the Harry Wendelstedt School for Umpires in Ormond Beach, Fla., or the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring in Austin, Texas.
Little League All Stars are coming soon and there is a need for volunteers. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Larry Adams, the umpire in charge of the Twentynine Palms Little League, and the Tactical Training Exercise Control Group academic coordinator, by calling 969-3031 or e-mailing him at Coyote.email@example.com.