This is huge news, ladies and gentlemen. A female umpire is scheduled to work a major league exhibition game for the first time in almost 20 years.
Ria Cortesio, who will start the season at Double-A, will be on the bases Thursday for an Arizona Diamondbacks spring training game against the Chicago Cubs.
"I'm looking forward to it," she said. "There will be a lot more people in the stands than I'm used to... I don't do this job to get on TV, but I hope it will raise the awareness a little."No female umpire has ever worked in the majors during the regular season. Pam Postema was the last lady blue to call big league exhibitions, back in 1989. She was in spring training for two years before being released.
Cortesio is the one and only female umpire in professional baseball. At the age of 30, she is beginning her ninth year overall and fifth in Double-A. As a
Cortesio was on the field last season for All-Star festivities at PNC Park, called the minor league Futures Game, then worked the Home Run Derby the next night.
She started her umpiring career in the Pioneer League, but doesn't consider herself a "pioneer" in a profession completely dominated by men. For several years, she's been an instructor at the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring.
While working in the Florida State League, George Steinbrenner once criticized her strike zone after she worked a game that Roger Clemens pitched while recuperating from an injury.
This year, Cortesio hopes for the move to AAA, as she is next in line for the promotion when a vacancy occurs. Once umpires reach AAA, they are evaluated by major league supervisors, rather than minor league staff.
[ESPN] | [Ria Cortesio]