Ramon de Jesus, Only Arbiter From His Native Land, Maintains Steady Pace from 2018 to 2019 as Regular Call-Up

Sep. 13, 2019

Dominican Republic-Born Umpire Begins New Campaign on Various MLB Crews; Ortiz Consistently Stays at Top Level, Working Plate on National TV

The Dominican Republic's Ramon de Jesus, in his increasingly frequent duty as an MLB call-up, began the 2019 season where he left off in 2018, as the most frequently used Latino call-up to The Show. (He is officially assigned to the Triple-A Pacific Coast League {PCL}, which completed its regular 2019 schedule the first week in September.)

Meanwhile, PCL Crew Chief Roberto Ortiz spent all of June as an MLB call-up on various crews, matching the pace he and de Jesus had established during the 2018 season. Ortiz most recently received additional universal exposure on Sept. 12 in Philadelphia when he worked behind home plate as a "call-up" in the host Phillies' 9-5 victory the National League East-leading rival Atlanta Braves. The occasion was a nationally televised match-up on the Fox broadcast network.

Another Blue Hombre, full-time MLB arbiter Carlos Torres, was part of a Dana DeMuth-led crew that officiated the weekend series in London, England, that matched up American League East rivals, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Torres was behind home plate on Sunday, June 30, at London Stadium.

SoCal Resident Ceja Lone Blue Hombre Umpire in 2018 Arizona Fall League

Nov. 5, 2018

Arizona State Product Also Works AFL's Fall Stars Game

Pacific Coast League (PCL) veteran Nestor Ceja, who resides in Southern California's San Fernando Valley, was first-base umpire on the six-man crew that officiated the Arizona Fall League's (AFL) on Nov. 3, 2018. Ceja, an alumnus of nearby Arizona State University, is the only Latino arbiter -- or Blue Hombre -- working the fall league's two-month season in October and November.

Ceja's partners who did the Star contest with him before a crowd of 6,683 at Surprise Stadium included three International League (IL) game-callers -- Florida's Adam Beck behind home plate, Illinoisan Alex Tosi at second base and Virginia's Brennan Miller at third. The West edged the East All-Stars, 7-6.

The former Sun Devil's regular crew in the 2018 AFL also numbers Miller; frequent major league call-up Jansen Visconti, a Pennsylvanian and IL umpire; and Dan Merzel, another IL umpire, who hails from North Carolina.

Blue Hombres -- Especially Ortiz -- Continue to Make Unique History

May. 14, 2018

Puerto Rico Native, Venezuela's Torres Comprise Half of Crew, with Ichiro As Fill-In Bench Coach for Mariners

Along with home plate umpire Carlos Torres, a Venezuelan, Puerto Rico-born Roberto Ortiz comprised one-half of the four-man Kermit Danley-led crew that called the American League contest matching the invading Seattle Mariners and host Tigers on May 12 at Detroit's Comerica Park. The fourth crew member was Paul Nauert.

Other than a routine regular-season game, most notable was retired Ichiro Suzuki -- who crafted an entire likely MLB Hall of Fame career, mostly with the Mariners, after a similar set of seasons in his native Japan -- filling as Seattle's bench coach for Manny Acta. Ichiro, as he is commonly known, brought the visitors' lineup card to the plate during the pregame conference, and shared pleasantries with the umpires and Steve Liddle, Detroit's bench coach.

The assignment marked another personal milestone for Ortiz, who has accomplished several other "firsts" for Blue Hombres, or Latino umpires, so far in the 2018 season. The other events are detailed elsewhere on this website page.


On the business route for U.S. 285 (or Old Las Vegas Highway), just off Interstate 25, on the far east side of Santa Fe, N. Mex., there used to be a great little place called Bobcat Bite, site of some of the juiciest, hand-formed burgers and varied delectable, fresh veggie sides you could find anywhere -- all reasonably priced. But probably because it did not accept credit cards, the Bobcat sadly has closed for good. It had been a great mid-point respite to stuff yourself en route from Colorado to Arizona any year for spring training in the Cactus League, or later in the year for Arizona Fall League games at six different Cactus circuit ballparks -- to watch Blue Hombres work games in-person, of course. (Photo by Phil Ross)

Ortiz Achieves Personal, Historically Significant Milestones During Same Week

Apr. 22, 2018

Puerto Rican-turned-Floridian 1st Native to Work MLB Series in Commonwealth; Pioneer on Initial 3-Latino Contingent on Another Crew

A couple of rare milestones in professional baseball history were achieved within the past week, and Puerto Rican-born umpire Roberto Ortiz, who now resides in Central Florida, was a key participant in both.

The 33-year-old Ortiz, a Triple-A Pacific Coast League arbiter, is a frequent call-up to Major League Baseball to fill temporarily vacant slots in The Show; he was one of the four umpires on the crew officiating the Puerto Rico Series on April 18 and 19 in San Juan, the U.S. island commonwealth's capital city.

In the two-game, American League Central clash between the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians at historic Hiram Bithorn Stadium, Ortiz became the first native Puerto Rican to call a regular-season MLB contest in the commonwealth.

Then, on April 20, continuing in a call-up role, he joined fellow Blue Hombres Carlos Torres, a Venezuelan and regular big league arbiter who now lives in the Atlanta, Ga., area, and the Dominican Republic's Ramon de Jesus, another call-up who is Ortiz's PCL colleague, for the Puerto Rican's second historically significant feat. The three comprised most of the quartet with Crew Chief Kerwin Danley, an African-American from Los Angeles, in the nightcap half of a split doubleheader between the visiting Kansas City Royals and their AL Central rival host Tigers at Detroit's Comerica Park.

Ortiz, who had worked the first game of the KC-Detroit twin bill a few hours earlier with Danley and two different non-Latino partners, thus was part of the initial occasion -- with Torres and de Jesus -- of three Latino umpires working the same MLB game.

The trio of 30-something Hispanics are among those featured in a book trilogy on Latino umpires authored by Phil Ross, a former longtime college & prep umpire. The trilogy's Book One, BLUE HOMBRES: The Life and Times of Major League Baseball's Latino Umpires, was published in late 2016. Book Two, BLUE HOMBRES 2.0: Major League Baseball's Latino Umpires and Their Crew Mates Embrace the High-Tech Revolution with Much Gusto, will debut later this spring. Book Three, BLUE HOMBRES numero tres: Major League Baseball's Latino Umpires and Their Peers Peer into an Uncharted and Uncertain Future, is scheduled for release sometime after the end of the 2018 season.

Danley and numerous other MLB, Triple-A and Double-A umpires -- both Latino and non-Latino -- also are included in varied real-life episodes in the first two volumes.

6 Blue Hombres Return for 2018 MLB Season

Apr. 7, 2018

New Campaign Also Includes Pair of Latino Umpires with Much Call-Up Experience

Six Latino regulars from last season -- including older veterans who go back beyond the New Millennium -- completed another spring training, either in Arizona or Florida, calling balls and strikes, and were ready to start the 2018 campaign as early as March 29.

The group of Blue Hombres (as featured in the current book trilogy of the same name by author Phil Ross) is led by Angel Hernández, longest-serving umpire of Latino descent in Major League Baseball (MLB) history. Also back are his fellow Floridan, Laz Díaz, both of Cuban ancestry; Alfonso Marquez, the first and only full-time MLB umpire born in Mexico; Manny Gonzalez, first MLB umpire from Venezuela; and two second-year permanent arbiters in The Show, Venezuelan Carlos Torres, second from his country in the current role, and Gabe Morales, a Northern California native of Mexican descent.

Having earned much praise in 2017, and therefore expected to work many MLB contests again as frequent call-ups, are two Blue Hombres officially assigned to the Pacific Coast League (PCL), popularly known in horsehide circles, along with the other Triple-A circuit, the International League (IL), as The Show Before the Show. Puerto Rico-born Roberto Ortiz, who umpired in the IL in 2017, joins PCL veteran Ramon de Jesus, a native of the Dominican Republic, either as rovers/floaters on various PCL crews or more likely as constant call-ups to fill slots on big league foursomes.

Varied other Latino umpires are back this season, having in many cases progressed up the ladder from the lower minor leagues to the AAA and AA levels. The most notable is another Venezuelan, David Arrieta, who achieved upward mobility in a change from Double-A ball to the PCL, where Californian Nestor Ceja returns for another season, with call-up possibilities. Also working a second consecutive campaign in the International League is Marshall, Mich., product Charlie Ramos.

2 Venezuelan Blue Hombres Were Base Umpires in Caribbean Series Championship Game

Feb. 10, 2018

Terán and Navas Part of 6-Man Crew in Puerto Rico's Win in Mexico Over Dominican Squad

Venezuela-bred Jorge Terán and José Navas Corzo were two of the three base umpires on the six-man crew that officiated Puerto Rico's 9-4 victory over the Dominican Republic on Feb. 9 in the Caribbean Series championship game at Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico. Navas Corzo was at first base, with Terán at third.

The two minor league arbiters' fellow Blue Hombre, Ramon de Jesus Ferrer, a Dominican native, joined the Venezuela pair on another six-man crew earlier in the week-long series, with all games played this winter in Mexico's second-largest city. The Caribbean Rim version of the World Series annually includes championship teams from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

In 2017, de Jesus Ferrer did not use his mother's name but was officially known as Ramon de Jesus as major league call-up and a Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Terán was assigned to the AA Eastern League, and Navas Corzo, aka either José Navas or José Corzo, worked the Advanced-A Florida State League. All are in their 30s. The two Venezuelans are, like MLB umpire Carlos Torres, natives of their country's Lara state.

Blue Hombres de Jesus, Ortiz Among Dozen MLB Call-Up Umpires Who Worked 2017 AFL Season

Nov. 19, 2017

Puerto Rico Native Handles Home Plate Duties in Fall Circuit's Title Game

Puerto Rico native Roberto Ortiz capped off his third consecutive short season in the Arizona Fall League as home plate umpire in the 2017 AFL championship game on Nov. 18. Ortiz, who now resides in Central Florida, handled the assignment in two hours and 45 minutes; base umpires who joined him in Peoria's 8-2 victory over Mesa at Scottsdale Stadium were fellow Major League Baseball call-ups Bryan Fields, Jeremie Rehak and Garrett Patterson.

Ortiz and Dominican Republic native Ramon de Jesus were the two Latinos among the dozen arbiters selected to officiate the AFL's October/November schedule, both as repeaters from 2016.

Gerry Davis, Record-Setting Umpire for Number of Postseason Games, Picked to Head 2017 Crew in Fall Classic

Oct. 22, 2017

8 Arbiters in Field or Replay Roles Also Include Veteran Latino Umpire Laz Díaz, Who Has Separate Chapter in BLUE HOMBRES Book One

Gerry Davis, a 34-year Major League Baseball (MLB) umpiring veteran, who has called a record 128 postseason games, was selected by MLB to head the crew working the 2017 World Series match-up between the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers. The best-of-seven Fall Classic was scheduled to begin Oct. 24 at L.A.'s Dodger Stadium. Davis was slated to start the Series in Game One at second base.

The rest of the crew included Paul Nauert, opening at first base; Latino Laz Díaz, subject of Chapter 4 in Book One of the Phil Ross BLUE HOMBRES trilogy, at third; Bill Miller down the left-field line; Dan Iassogna along the right-field line; and Mark Wegner and Tripp Gibson in the replay booth for Games One and Two. Cuzzi and Wegner were ticketed to trade roles from Game Three forward.

Trio of Blue Hombre Umpires Handle Plate Duties on Same Day Over Weekend in AL

Sep. 11, 2017

Venezuelan, Dominican, Puerto Rican Natives Rotate Into 'Dish' Duties Simultaneously

Young veteran Carlos Torres, from Venezuela; and call-ups Ramon de Jesus, born in the Dominican Republic; and Roberto Ortiz, a native of Puerto Rico now living in Florida, all have a new wrinkle in common.

The three Blue Hombres coincidentally were the home-plate umpires the same day, Sept. 10, at different American League venues.

In Cleveland, the defending AL champion Indians posted their 18th consecutive win and right-hander Trevor Bauer captured his 16th victory in 2017, with Torres calling balls and strikes on a Dana DeMuth-led crew that also includes regulars Paul Nauert and Chris Guccione.

At Oakland, where the host Athletics pasted AL West leader Houston, 10-2,de Jesus took his plate turn; his crew, led by Sam Holbrook, also included Greg Gibson and D.J. Reyburn. The Dominican, officially still a Pacific Coast League employee, ejected Astros center-fielder Jake Marisnick in the top of the fifth inning for complaining about the strike zone after being called out looking twice.

In Toronto, where the Blue Jays beat the invading Detroit Tigers, 8-2, Ortiz, permanently an International League arbiter, was filling in for vacationing crew chief Larry Vanover. He was joined by another veteran, Alfonso "Fonzy" Marquez, first and only MLB umpire born in Mexico, at second base, and two other full-time big league umpires, Kerwin Danley and Chad Fairchild, at first and third, respectively.

Ortiz and de Jesus have been the two most frequent Blue Hombres serving "up-and-down" roles -- shuttling between the two Triple-A leagues (known as The Show Before the Show) and The Show (MLB) -- throughout the 2017 season.

Ortiz Returns to Adopted Home State for MLB Assignment; de Jesus Does One-Game Triple-A Fill-In

Sep. 7, 2017

Puerto Rican Native Revisits AAA Haunts Briefly, Then Bumps Right Back Up; Dominican Remains Mainly in Bigs But Is Called for Lone Fill-In Role in PCL Prior to Trip to Queens

The first weekend in September 2017 found Roberto Ortiz, who had spent a Syracuse-Lehigh Valley series in the Triple-A International League, back in Miami on Sept. 2 to join the Dan Iassogna crew in Miami, where the Marlins hosted Philadelphia in a National League East pairing. He was behind the plate that date when Marlin Giancarlo Stanton slammed his 52nd home run of the season.

Ortiz stayed at the MLB level for another series -- from Sept. 5-7 -- on a Dana DeMuth-led foursome working the Chicago Cubs-Pirates series in Pittsburgh. He was spelling fellow Blue Hombre, Venezuelan Carlos Torres, who almost literally "floated" over to join Jerry Meals's crew in hurricane-threatened Atlanta, where the Sept. 5 clash between the Braves and Texas Rangers was washed out. Both Ortiz and Torres remained balls and strikes at the same respective sites on Sept. 6.

Meanwhile, Dominican Ramon de Jesus, who had spent most of 2017 in the Bigs as a call-up fill-in, returned briefly to the Pacific Coast League for a one-game substitution job. Then he moved back up on Sept. 5 to join a Sam Holbrook-led quartet at Citi Field, the New York Mets' home in Queens, site of their game and series against the NL East rival Philadelphia Phillies. On Sept. 6, with de Jesus calling balls and strikes, the weather forced the Phillies-Mets contest to end after six innings in an official 6-3 Mets' victory.

Also on the Blue Hombre Trail this past week was yet another milestone for a veteran umpire who annually winds up doing home plate during some notable historic occasions. Alfonso "Fonzy" Marquez, subject of Chp. 5 of Book One in Phil Ross's BLUE HOMBRES MLB Latino umpire trilogy, was behind the plate the past week for the four home-run feat by Arizona's J.D. Martinez But Fonzy also called balls and strikes in deciding Game 5 of the Royals' win over the Mets in the 2015 World Series -- a contest that lasted 12 innings and 4 1/2 hours with nary a mistake by the only native of Mexico to be a Major League Baseball arbiter.

Plus, Marquez was on the "dish" last season when the Chicago White Sox pulled off the only 9-3-2-6-2-5 triple play in baseball history against the Texas Rangers. It helped the Chisox that rotund "speedster" (NOT) Prince Fielder was at third, with runners at the corners with no outs when the play began. Thinking a sinking liner to right would drop in but was instead snagged by sliding Adam Eaton, Prince took over for home but was caught dead after a long rundown ("baseball's version of a conga line," as Ross termed it in the book) for the third out, with Fonzy making the call as Fielder trying to dive toward home.

Dominican Umpire Pioneer de Jesus Back in Bigs on Call-Up Assignment

Jul. 29, 2017

Frequent Up-and-Down Colleague Ortiz Handles Call on Unusual Play with Perfection

Ramon de Jesus, who last season became the first-ever umpire from the Dominican Republic to call a Major League Baseball (MLB) game, was back in The Show during the past week. He was assigned call-up duties in the Houston-Detroit series July 28 on an MLB crew, headed by Fieldin "Cubby" Culbreth and also including Venezuelan native Manny Gonzalez. Like de Jesus, the latter Blue Hombre was the first from his homeland to become a big league umpire several years ago.

Meanwhile, in a Triple-A International League contest at Lehigh Valley, which defeated Gwinnett, plate umpire Roberto Ortiz demonstrated good judgment, patience, timing and angle in his "safe" call on the host IronPigs' J.P. Crawford, who sped around the bases on a rare, three-run inside-the-park home run. After de Jesus, the Puerto Rican has been the second-most-frequent "up-and-down" Blue Hombre in the 2017 season.

Blue Hombres Hernández, Gonzalez Part of 2017 All-Star Arbiter Crew

Jul. 10, 2017

Meanwhile, In AAA Star Contest, No Latino Umpires This Time

Despite a lawsuit against Major League Baseball and Commissioner Rob Manfred he filed last month in a federal court in Ohio, alleging bias against MLB Latino umpires, Angel Hernández, current senior Latino umpire among active arbiters, will be at first base in the 2017 All-Star Game on July 11 in Miami, Fla.

Joining him on the six-man crew will be another Blue Hombre, or Latino umpire, Venezuela native Manny Gonzalez.

Meanwhile, although no Blue Hombres are among the four umpires working the July 10 Triple-A All-Star Game in Tacoma, Wash., Billy Cunha, a Pacific Coast League veteran who has a smidgen of Portuguese ancestry, has been selected as crew chief and home plate operative. The AAA classic pits the PCL against its International League peers.

Ross-Kellogg Duo Spends Pleasant Post-Game Visit with PCL Umpire Trio of Felix, Czajak, Ceja After Iowa-Sky Sox Doubleheader in Colo. Springs

Jul. 18, 2017

For 1 Arbiter & Author, It Marks Reunion from Initial 2016 Meeting

Author Phil Ross and sidekick Bob "Gabby" Kellogg shared anecdotes and tales on July 16 in Colorado Springs with a Pacific Coast League umpire crew headed by Texan Blake Felix. The occasion was following a Triple-A doubleheader in which the host Sky Sox swept the Iowa Cubs in a pair of one-run wins, 2-1 and 5-4, the second in eight innings and decided on a passed ball. Each game was scheduled for seven innings. Had the second contest not finished as it did, it would have resulted in a final, 4-4 tie due to the league's "curfew" rule, which dictated that no inning begin after 4 p.m because of travel necessities.

The post-game chat with Felix, fellow Lone Star resident Matt Czajak and first-year Triple-A partner Nestor Ceja resulted in a reunion for Ross and Czajak, who initially met last year. Ceja and Czajak both are instructors at the Minor League Baseball Umpire Academy in the offseason. If Ceja, who grew up in Southern California, eventually secures a full-time major league post, he would be the second MLB umpire born in Mexico, after Alfonso Marquez.

Up-and-Down Guys de Jesus, Ortiz Channeling Fellow Blue Hombres Torres, Morales in 1st Half of 2017 Season

Jun. 25, 2017

Dominican Umpire Pioneer Remains in Bigs on 1 Crew; Puerto Rican-Turned-Floridian Follows 2-Week MLB Duties with Temporary Return to Triple-A IL

Treading a very similar set of paths taken by Venezuela's Carlos Torres and Northern Californian Gabe Morales during the 2016 Major League Baseball (MLB) season, the Dominican Republic's Ramon de Jesus stayed in the "penthouse" the past week, while Puerto Rico native Roberto Ortiz, who now lives in Florida, returned to his for-now permanent home in the Triple-A International League. The first-ever MLB arbiter from his homeland, de Jesus continued to fill in for Scott Barry on a Paul Emmel-led crew that also includes Brian O'Nora, with a June 24 plate assignment in Washington, D.C., his latest gig. Ortiz, meanwhile, followed his recent two-week journey in the majors by re-joining the IL on a four-man crew that included three non-Latino partners.

In 2016, call-up Carlos Torres, while officially still an IL employee, spent the whole season with veteran Gerry Davis's crew. Morales, assigned technically to the Pacific Coast League, called most of his games the majority of the same campaign floating from one MLB foursome to another.

Also working regularly in the IL in '17 are Charlie Ramos and Robert Moreno. In the AAA PCL, which holds de Jesus's permanent contract, the other Blue Hombres are Nestor Ceja and David Arrieta.

Hybrid 'Joe West' MLB Crew Patched Together In Wake of Chief's 5,000th Game, Mate Fletcher's Injury During Plate Assignment for D-Backs'-Rockies' Battle for Top in Tight NL West Race

Jun. 22, 2017

Foursome's Regular Partner Alan Porter Takes Plate in Series Finale at Coors Field, Joined By 'Floaters' Kulpa & Blaser Plus Call-Up Whitson

Four non-Latino MLB umpires, who have worked many games in The Show and in the minor leagues with various Blue Hombre Latino crew mates, comprised a makeshift "Joe West" crew that worked the June 22 afternoon finale of the Arizona Diamondbacks' series triumph over the host National League West rival Colorado Rockies.

A day before the game at Coors Field -- which was witnessed in-person by Phil Ross, author of the BLUE HOMBRES book trilogy in conjunction with research for the three-volume collection's upcoming Book Two -- the scribe visited with West, Porter and Kulpa in their downtown Denver hotel lobby. The amiable get-together also occurred the day following the durable West's 5,000th regular-season game as a major league umpire. In retrospect, Ross, himself a former longtime college and high school umpire, felt badly because one of the anecdotes he shared with them involved describing the use of an unexpected batted ball to the face mask for psychological purposes during prep or college contests.

Then, unfortunately, a few hours after the former and current arbiters politely parted company, Andy Fletcher, the fourth member of West's crew (who had not met with the author in the hotel lobby), was seriously injured and hospitalized in the top of the seventh inning of that evening's Arizona-Colorado game. A deflection off an Arizona batter's hand of a 97-plus mile-per-hour pitch had hit Fletcher directly in the face mask.

Consequently, with West scheduled for an appointment in Kansas City on June 22 and Fletcher sidelined, and Kulpa already filling in for Hunter Wendelstedt, the hybrid crew wound up matching Porter and Kulpa with full-time MLB umpire Cory Blaser and call-up Chad Whitson, a Triple-A International League veteran.

Dominican Finishes Most Recent Week Handling 1st Base on Adopted MLB Crew; Puerto Rican-Born Colleague Completes Latest 2-Week Stint in The Show Before Plate Assignment at AAA Indy

Jun. 19, 2017

PCL-Assigned de Jesus Remains in Bigs with Latest Call-Up Fill-In Duty in

Ramon de Jesus, first and only Major League Baseball (MLB) umpire from the Caribbean island nation of the Dominican Republic, continued his latest stay in The Show at first base in a 2-1 Milwaukee victory over visiting San Diego on Father's Day, June 18; he still was spelling Scott Barry on a Brian O'Nora crew with regulars Paul Emmel and Chris Wolcott. The 33-year-old de Jesus is officially assigned to the AAA Pacific Coast League in his dual up-and-down and fill-in "floater" role. He continued with O'Nora's crew in the new week for a series pitting the San Francisco Giants against the Braves at Atlanta's new SunTrust Park.

The Dominican's fellow Caribe islander, Roberto Ortiz, who hails from Puerto Rico but now resides in Florida, has operated mostly as a call-up on various MLB crews thus far in June, yet began a new week on June 19 behind the plate in the International League, with Toledo's Mud Hens flapping their wings in the collective faces of the host Indianapolis Indians.

Ramon de Jesus Remaining Mostly at Big League Level in Call-Up Duties Similar to 2016 Campaign

Jun. 12, 2017

1st MLB Arbiter from Dominican Republic, Although AAA PCL Employee, Enjoying Being 'Up' in MLB 'Temp' Job

Just as he did on various umpire crews most of the previous season, Ramon de Jesus finds himself working mostly in Major League Baseball (MLB) so far in the 2017 campaign. The first-ever MLB umpire from the Dominican Republic, although officially a Triple-A employee of the Pacific Coast League, de Jesus began the current week handling a Baltimore Orioles-White Sox series at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field on June 12 as part of a Paul Emmel-headed crew; the Dominican was positioned at third base, substituting for Scott Barry, accompanied by Emmel, Brian O'Nora and Chris Wolcott. A stint behind the plate was de Jesus's duty in a 5-2 Sox win to close the series on June 15.

Meanwhile, Venezuela's David Arrieta and Californian Nestor Ceja continued their respective initial turns as AAA umpires in the PCL, as did two other Blue Hombres, Venezuelan Roberto Moreno and Michigander Charlie Ramos, in the International League.

Roberto Ortiz Lengthens Call-Up Assignments As MLB Umpire By Working Series on Both Coasts

May. 31, 2017

Puerto Rico-Born, IL Crew Chief Does NYC Game, Moves to Nation's Capital, Handles Plate for Scherzer's 13-Strikeout, 3-Hit Gem, Bounces Back to Big Apple, Then Caps Off 2-Week Stint in The Show at San Diego

It seems that a degree in Physical Education and several years in the off-season of P.E. teaching in Kentucky are increasingly becoming mere figments in Roberto Ortiz's rear-view mirror, as his professional umpiring progress continues to sizzle on the front burner.

Born in Puerto Rico 32 years ago, the Major League Baseball (MLB) call-up umpire, who moved to Central Florida recently after three years in Kentucky teaching high school, is becoming a regular fixture in The Show. Most recently, after completing a previous single-game gig at Yankee Stadium, Ortiz joined the arbiter crew of veteran Jerry Layne to handle a three-game series from May 26-28 between the host Washington Nationals and San Diego Padres; also on the Layne crew were regulars Dan Bellino and Mike Estabrook, with Ortiz substituting for Marvin Hudson. Ortiz did the plate in a 13-strikeout, three-hit performance by Nats' right-hander Max Scherzer, a two-time Cy Young Award winner.

When that series in the Nation's Capital ended, Ortiz hooked up with another veteran crew chief, Fieldin "Cubby" Culbreth, and the latter's partners, CB Bucknor and Ortiz's fellow Blue Hombre, Venezuelan Manny Gonzalez, for a Milwaukee Brewers/New York Mets series that began on May 30 at Citi Field.

Ortiz was filling in for Mark Carlson, who returned to Cubby's crew on June 3. with Carlson back, Ortiz found himself at San Diego's Petco Park on Brian Gorman's crew with Dan Iassogna and Tripp Gibson, III, in the division-leading Colorado Rockies' NL West series over the host Padres. The reliable call-up was behind the plate on June 4.

The Puerto Rican returned on June 5 to the Triple-A International League to join new partners Ryan Additon, Jeremie Rehak and Adam Beck in working an All-North Carolina contest between the legendary Durham Bulls and host Carolina Knights.

So far in 2017, Ortiz has been paired at times on four-man big league crews with fellow Blue Hombres Gonzalez and Northern Californian Gabe Morales, Latino arbiters who are full-time members of the MLB staff.

Other Blue Hombres working this season in AAA ball include Southern California's Nestor Ceja, Ramon de Jesus of the Dominican Republic and Venezuelan David Arrieta in the Pacific Coast League, and Michigander Charlie Ramos and another Venezolano, Roberto Moreno, in the IL. Enjoying the second-most number of MLB call-up gigs in 2017, behind Ortiz, is de Jesus, first-ever big league umpire from his country. This past week, de Jesus was on his normal PCL crew with Nick Mahrley, Garrett Patterson and Derek Eaton to officiate the Memphis Redbirds-New Orleans Baby Cakes series at the Crescent City's new Shrine on Airline.

In His First Official Season as Full-time MLB Umpire, Venezuelan Carlos Torres Takes Charge, Ejects 3 After Dodgers, host Marlins Have 9th-Inning Brouhaha

May. 22, 2017

Home Plate Arbiter Witnesses Enough of 'Beanball' Tactics, Exchange of Baseball Revenge, Sends Manager, Coach, Player to Showers

Venezuelan Carlos Torres had his first ejection, as a season-long call-up on veteran Major League Baseball (MLB) umpire Gerry Davis's crew, in 2016. On a dispute over a swinging strike-or-foul ball call during a New York Mets-Colorado Rockies contest at Denver's Coors Field in the summer of '16, Torres "tossed" Mets Manager Terry Collins for a profanity-laced protest.

Torres, typically a patient yet emphatic game manager when working the plate, had seen enough in that role recently as part of a Dana DeMuth-led crew that also includes Paul Nauert and Chris Guccione. On May 19 in Miami, Torres ejected Marlins Manager Don Mattingly, a former Dodgers player and manager; L.A. Bench Coach Bob Geren; and visiting relief pitcher Ross Stripling. The ejections were precipitated after each side''s hurlers had hit opposing batters with pitches, prompting first a warning, then ultimately the ejections, which resulted directly from both dugouts emptying and swarming the infield for a short rhubarb.

Torres, who resides in central Florida during the long season, is featured in Chapter 8 of Ross's book, BLUE HOMBRES: The Life and Times of Major League Baseball's Latino Umpires, First of a Trilogy. Parts 2 and 3 of the trilogy are scheduled for respective releases during the 2017 All-Star Break in mid-July and World Series time in late October.

Puerto Rican Ortiz, Dominican de Jesus Again Going Up and Down from Triple-A to MLB, Similar to 2016

May. 16, 2017

BLUE HOMBRE Pair Repeating Last Season's Role as 'Mr. Fix-It'

Over the past week or more, Puerto Rico native Roberto Ortiz and Ramon de Jesus, first and only Dominican Republic-born Major League Baseball umpire, have been logging extra time on airplane flights or lengthy rental-car drives.

Last season, along with current new full-time MLB arbiters Gabe Morales and Venezuelan Carlos Torres, they were the two most active Blue Hombres who were frequent call-ups from the two Triple-A leagues -- Ortiz and Torres from the International (IL), de Jesus and Morales from the Pacific Coast (PCL).

The trend is continuing so far in 2017 for the pair, whose full-time contracts still are in their respective AAA leagues.

Three times over the past week-plus, Ortiz has been called up from his IL crew chief role to work single MLB substitution assignments -- two in New York's Yankee Stadium, where he was at first base with Morales at the plate on May 14, and the night earlier in the month following the first Gotham job at second base with a similar niche at Milwaukee's Miller Park. The pairing of Ortiz and Morales was a rare occasion when more than one Latino umpire worked the same contest in The Show.

The Dominican, meanwhile, has been spending hours behind the wheel in base placements for different big league series with the host Colorado Rockies at Denver's Coors Field, sandwiched around a four-game Sky Sox home series at Security Service Field in Colorado Springs. In the Springs, he became a fourth on a normal three-man crew led by Morales's fellow Northern California native, Billy Cunha.

All MLB Umpire Crews That Include Blue Hombres Are Active & In Motion

Apr. 20, 2017

Roberto Ortiz Gets Early Call-Up from Triple-A IL in Game at Yankee Stadium, Then Shifts to Milwaukee for 1 Game

Major League Baseball (MLB) has 19 full-time umpire crews, and Blue Hombres Angel Hernández, Laz Díaz, Alfonso Marquez, Manny Gonzalez, Carlos Torres and Gabe Morales are regulars on six different crews so far early in the first weeks of the 2017 season.

Additionally, Puerto Rican-turned-Floridian Roberto Ortiz made his 2017 debut as a call-up on Tom Hallion's crew on April 19, working second base in a night game at Yankee Stadium, where the Pinstripes routed the visiting Chicago White Sox, 9-1. The next evening, after boarding a flight to Milwaukee and despite a serious head cold that began his week in an International League (IL) game in Durham, N. Car., on April 16, he stayed at second base on Ted Barrett's crew, as the Brewers hosted the St. Louis Cardinals in a National Central contest. Ortiz's permanent contract this season is with the AAA IL, so the call-up rejoined his three-man IL crew for an April 21 night game at Lehigh Valley, making an air connection to the eastern Pennsylvania via a long layover in Detroit. The next day -- in the nightcap of a Toledo-at-Lehigh doubleheader, Ortiz called balls and strikes, efficiently completing plate duties in only two hours and eight minutes, in the second of two seven-inning contests.

The second of three Blue Hombres on the regular IL arbiter roster this season, Venezuelan Roberto Moreno, started the week on the bases in an all-Upstate New York doubleheader -- one game a make-up of a rain delay -- pitting host Rochester against Syracuse on April 19. Moreno finished the same week on April 22 in a 1-0 shutout of the Indianapolis Indians by the invading Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders -- the second consecutive day of the exact-same result.

IL rookie umpire Charlie Ramos, a Blue Hombre from Marshall, Mich., who worked the AA Eastern League in 2016, was at second base on a four-man crew that handled a mid-week series in which the Syracuse Chiefs faced the visiting Toledo Mud Hens. Moreno, meanwhile, also did a four-man simultaneous stint in Indianapolis, which faced the Durham Bulls.

Week-ending activity for IL Blue Hombres started on April 21 at Norfolk, where visiting Syracuse's three pitchers combined for a five-hit, 14-strikeout shutout over the Tides, with Ramos behind the plate and doing the job in just two hours and 17 minutes. He was at third base April 22 in the Chiefs' 9-4 victory over Norfolk.

Moreno also officiated an April 21 blank job -- at second base, as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre defeated host Indianapolis, 1-0.