On the baseball diamond, anger and umpires go together like peanuts and CrackerJacks.
Managers screaming at umpires. Players yelling about balls and strikes. Umpires ejecting players and managers.
So much anger surrounding umpires, but at Rady Children’s Hospital, an event flipped the script on umpires, nothing but love for and from umpires.
The umpiring crew working the San Diego Padres – New York Mets series visited children with cancer and other serious illnesses at the hospital.
“Emotionally I don’t know exactly what they go through, but I have an idea of what they go through and my heart breaks for them. If I can put a smile on their face I feel like I’ve done something for them and given back,” said 28 year MLB umpire Bob Hallion.
Four Major League Baseball umpires offered words of encouragement and Build-A-Bear stuffed animals to patients and families at Rady Children’s. Each child choose from a variety of pre-stuffed animals as well as clothing outfits for their new “furry friend” – including bear-sized Padres uniforms.
In a place where smiles are hard to find, there were plenty to go around during this event.
“It makes me so happy, it make this all so much more tolerable and it also reminds me of how kind people are. It’s amazing that this many people want to help,” said Shelley Dever, whose son is a patient at Rady Children’s.
Jennifer Sanchez, who has a daughter receiving treatment at the hospital said, “it’s helping them forget the reason why they’re here and just enjoy the moment and just be kids, and I think that is the greatest gift.”
“We’re here just to give them a little something special because they have a tough road ahead of them, it’s nice to see them smile,” said Hallion.
The event is part of a program by UMPS CARE Charities, a non-profit organization founded by MLB Umpires to enrich the lives of at-risk youth and children coping with serious illness. MLB Umpires have hosted 131 children’s hospital events since the program began in 2006 and have handed out more than 12,500 Build-A-Bears.