Before the Major League Baseball umpires took the field at Camden Yards at Oriole Park in Baltimore, they took time out to field questions from young patients at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

Fieldin “Cubby” Culbreth and Ryan Blakney, part of the MLB umpiring crew working the Baltimore Orioles’ series against the Los Angeles Angels this week, participated in a Zoom question and answer session with kids undergoing treatment at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, and UMPS CARE Charities shipped 100 Build-A-Bear® furry friends, outfits and baseball activity books to add to the excitement of the day.

Usually, the umpires visit the kids in person, but with COVID restrictions in place, UMPS CARE has pivoted to ensure that we continue to deliver smiles to kids who are isolated now more than ever.

“All of us at UMPS CARE Charities are so grateful that our longtime collaborators at Johns Hopkins have made this event possible,” said Jennifer Skolochenko-Platt, Executive Director at UMPS CARE Charities. “Our umpires look forward to visiting these kids and brightening their day every season, and we are glad that even during these challenging times, we can continue to bring smiles to the faces of these young patients and to the health care workers who have been through so much these past couple of years.”

Kids asked Cubby and Ryan about their work schedules (Answer: They travel as a crew every 3 to 4 days to different MLB stadiums), how they became umpires (Answer: They had to attend umpire school in Florida and work in the minor leagues, just like professional baseball players do.)

The umpires also teamed up with Child Life staff members to teach the kids about basic medical tasks – things like taking blood pressure and getting COVID tests. Child Life staff used the Build-A-Bear friends (a stuffed tiger appropriately named, “Cubby”) as pretend patients.



“It’s not the same as being in the hospital with the kids,” said Fieldin Culbreth, who has participated in numerous in-person hospital visits over the years with UMPS CARE. “But we know how important it is to interact with them and their families and to give them a chance to feel like kids. They couldn’t be at the ballpark, so we did our best to bring some baseball to them.”


The event was featured in this news article on MASN, the Orioles’ network.

UMPS CARE Charities wishes to thank Bristol Myers Squibb for providing volunteer and financial support. Employees from Bristol Myers took time out to package goody bags for kids at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. Major League Baseball for their continued support of this event.


Our virtual event with Johns Hopkins Children’s Center marked the 177th hospital event for UMPS CARE Charities, dating back to the program’s inception in 2006. To date, UMPS CARE has distributed nearly 18,000 Build-A-Bear® furry friends to kids being treated at hospitals across the country and in Canada.

(Photos Courtesy of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center)