- Associated Press - Monday, October 24, 2016

MCALESTER, Okla. (AP) - Colby Barnett spends his nights working for the McAlester Police Department and spends his days as an umpire.

The 2005 McAlester graduate recently called his first games at the OSSAA state baseball tournaments recently and plans to attend umpire school to improve his chances of eventually calling games in the majors, according to the McAlester News-Capital (https://bit.ly/2dmJDYV ).

After working six years enforcing government law and the laws of baseball, Barnett said the two jobs require a similar mindset.

“It’s the same mentality because you have to have a level head when a coach is mad about a call or when you’re on the street doing police work,” Barnett said.

Barnett has been an umpire for six years, calling games at the annual Junior Sunbelt Classic in McAlester each of the past four years, and calling his first junior college games last spring.

He said he plans to attend a five-week umpire camp in January at Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School in Florida, where he will have the chance to earn an independent umpire contract.

Barnett also set up a gofundme account to help pay the $4,000 entry fee for the umpire camp.

He said his Tulsa officiation crew - Jim Perry, Terry Kimmel, and Mike Sexton - helped him get to where he is now and he wants to eventually get to the big leagues.

“I learned a lot from them, but you can always get better in my opinion and that’s why I’m going to the camp,” Barnett said.

Barnett learned to love baseball at an early age and played at McAlester, where his teams played under then-head coach and current MPS Superintendent Randy Hughes and went to the state semifinals every year.

He still remembers Eric Hughes’ walk-off grand slam to send McAlester to the state tournament in his sophomore year, as well as dropping a 5-3 loss to eventual state champion Bishop Kelley and current Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel in the state semifinals his senior year.

After high school, his umpire career started to take off.

“I just went from doing little league games to high school and now I call every day of the week except Wednesdays and Sundays,” Barnett said. “Every year I’ve gone up and keep getting better and better and I just want to see how far I can take it.”

Barnett has also worked in law enforcement since graduating high school, and is not the only law enforcement officers daylighting as an umpire. So do Frankie McClendon and Brad Wilson, among others.

He said not only does umpiring day games fit nicely with the schedule of working nights as a police officer, but both jobs take a similar mindset.

Barnett has worked for MPD for three years after starting as a jailor straight out of high school and working his way up to county deputy and working two years with Krebs Police Department.

“I wanted to be a cop since I was in second grade,” Barnett said. “My uncle was a lieutenant and first time I saw his police car with its lights on was when I got hooked and then I just grew up knowing a bunch of guys that were cops and knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

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Information from: McAlester News-Capital, https://www.mcalesternews.com


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