- Associated Press - Saturday, November 1, 2014

PLATTE CENTER, Neb. (AP) - Mail call has been replaced by calling balls and strikes.

Kevin Micek has traded in delivering the mail to delivering the right call on the diamond, the Norfolk Daily News (https://bit.ly/130mGWS ) reported.

The Platte Center postmaster relief will head to Daytona Beach, Florida, on Jan. 1, 2015, to attend the Wendelstedt Umpire School.

The 26-year-old Columbus man started at the post office in September 2013, and finished up Oct. 15 to head to umpiring school.

He can thank his mother for helping him land the post office job and also making him think about a career in baseball.

He was working at the Columbus Events Center when his mother, Linda Micek, told him about an opening with the post office in Platte Center. He applied and got the job.

“I guess ever since I was growing up there was always something about when I ordered something or got something in the mail, it just felt special, and it’s nice to be able to be able to give that feeling to other people,” he said. “You get to give somebody a smile, and it’s a really gratifying experience.”

Although he enjoyed working in the Platte Center Post Office, it wasn’t baseball.

That’s where his mom’s guidance paid off again.

“It was my mom again. It’s funny that being around baseball my whole life, I never thought of this as a career. It was just a fun hobby I could have on the side,” he said. “My mom mentioned, ‘You like baseball, why don’t you try umpiring?’ It never dawned on me I could do this. It never felt like work to me. It was something I was passionate about, something I loved.”

So he researched how to become a professional umpire and that led him to Wendelstedt’s school, named after former Major League Baseball umpire the late Harry Wendelstedt and now led by his son, Hunter, a MLB umpire.

He started umpiring in 2006, when he was 18, starting out in Little League and working his way up to club baseball, high school and American Legion games.

He enjoyed umpiring so much it was one of the reasons the postal job was appealing - because he would have his nights and weekends free to umpire.

Micek has a lot of experience, but will learn a lot more about umpiring at Wendelstedt’s school. One thing he won’t have to learn is how to develop a thick skin.

“As for the criticism, it’s never anything I took personally. There’s going to be 50-50 calls every game. No matter what the call is, you’re going to have one side yelling. Times like that all you can do is be in position, make your call and be firm about it,” Micek said.

Micek is ready to hone his skills at school.

Becoming a major league umpire is Micek’s ultimate goal, but he knows he has to put in his dues and, hopefully, work his way up to that level.

“That’s many years off because, like anything else, you have to work your way up the ranks and put in your time,” he said.

The school lasts five weeks and then he will then get an umpiring assignment some place in the country. How he ranks in the class will determine which umpiring crew he gets assigned to and how much help he gets with placement.

“After February I really don’t know where I’m going to be. It depends on what crew I get placed on,” he said.

Wherever he ends up, Micek said he’s found his calling.

“I feel blessed that I found this when I’m still young enough to pursue it. I know not everyone gets to do something that they love,” he said.


Information from: Norfolk Daily News, https://www.norfolkdailynews.com

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