Getting the call

John Stegeman, Sports Editor

May 13, 2013

Chris Slone

PDT Sports Editor

Very few sports fans have the opportunity to make a career in professional sports.

There are thousands upon thousands of high school athletes that never get a chance to play college ball, let alone professional ball. There are game officials at all levels, from pee-wee to high school, that will never officiate one professional contest.

Fortunately at one Portsmouth residence, the odds are more favorable.

Anthony Sheets, graduate of Wheelersburg High School, has been hired to officiate games in the American Association of Independent Baseball (AA). The 22-year-old will be working a 90-game schedule, with contest ranging from Texas to Canada.

“I am extremely excited to go and umpire pro baseball,” Sheets said in an e-mail to the Daily Times. “Many people dream of being around pro athletes and I get to share the same field with them.”

Sheets has been umpiring for the past six years, with the last four years coming at the high school level. After his second season, Sheets began receiving praise from his peers.

“Some of the area coaches and other umpires encouraged me to try and advance to the next level because they thought I had what it takes to call college level baseball,” Sheets said.

In January 2012, upon receiving the recommendations, Sheets traveled to Florida to attend the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring. The five-week course consisted of classroom work and on the field training at the Houston Astros’ spring training complex.

A year later, Sheets found himself in Shreveport, La. where he auditioned for various leagues. After the audition, Sheets was hired by the AA.

“So many people try and do this every ear, and I am one of the few that get to live out my dream,” Sheets said. “My goals as an umpire is to make it to the Minor Leagues and eventually become an MLB Umpire.”

Although sheets never played high school baseball, he has been a student of the game his entire life.

“I enjoy umpiring because I love the game of baseball and it allows me to be a part of the game,” Sheets said. “Watching the game of baseball is fun but being in the game of baseball is a whole different level. I hope that this can be a career path that I can spend 30 years in but only God knows where this leads me.”

Sheets is thankful for the opportunity.

“None of this would be possible without God, to him I give all the glory and honor,” Sheets said.

Chris Slone can be reached at 353-3101, ext 298, or cslone@civitasmedia.com. For breaking sports news, Follow Chris on Twitter @crslone.