A long, long time ago (well, 2009) in a country far, far away (well, okay, it was Canada), a young man said to four MLB umpires he met in a restaurant, "Hey, my season tickets are right behind home plate — wouldn't it be hilarious if you sent me two official uniforms and I could 'fake umpire' at a future game?" Forty-eight hours later a package appeared at his desk at work containing all he asked for, plus a challenge to back up his words with action.
And The Real Fake Umpires were born.
Yes, the antics of Tim Williams and Joe Farrell started perhaps as a lark, a joke when talking baseball with umps in a restaurant, but it turned into an extremely popular activity and led to a great relationship with UMPS CARE Charities to boot.
The two used their perch directly behind home plate to emulate everything the umpires on the field did — they call balls and strikes, brush off an imaginary home plate, motion for foul tips, make out and safe signs, and even "help" eject players or managers who need an early shower. Their talent for mimicry and their enthusiasm for the craft helped build a strong fan base.
"We noticed right off the bat that fans really liked the creativity and effort we exuded to make this happen," explained Tim. The positive feedback encouraged the two to "take the show on the road" to a number of stadiums in the United States. The response, they say, was rabid.
"Many times it would take us hours to get out of the stadium," said Joe, "as fans would want pictures or autographs, believe it or not." The Real Fake Umps became so popular, ESPN sent a camera crew to Toronto for a weekend to document their antics for E:60. They also were invited by the Washington Nationals to "umpire" the ever-popular Mascot Race during a game.
At this point, the popularity of the Real Fake Umps made the duo realize they might be able to do some good with it. They did an Internet search and UMPS CARE Charities immediately caught their eye. "We found out that the MLB umpires' official charity was UMPS CARE," they said, "so it was logical to try to raise them some money via this fake umpiring act." The Real Fake Umps always pay 100% of their own expenses as well, making sure all donations go directly to UMPS CARE Charities.
The duo retired from umpiring for a while, but agreed to a special One Night Only comeback this year when they noticed a pair of imposters. "There was a game in San Francisco in early July where two 'fake fake umpires' sat behind home plate in the front row and stole the act we invented in 2009," said Tim. Added Joe, "These two 'fake fake umpires' put on a very shabby act and we decided that we needed to come out of retirement for one game to restore some integrity and proper fundamentals to the craft that is real fake umpiring."
As luck would have it, the game they selected (Washington Nationals at New York Mets) ended up being moved to ESPN's Sunday Night Game of the Week, providing national coverage for their triumphant return. The two were front and center behind home plate, receiving lots of camera time and even a shout-out from the broadcast crew, who talked about how the pair were raising money for UMPS CARE and putting on a great show for fans as well.
Tim and Joe ended up raising more than $7,000 for the charity with just one game. Their total donations now add up to more than $15,000 through the Real Fake Umps, and another $20,000-plus generously donated through sponsorships of the UMPS CARE Golf Classic by Tim and his wife, Caroline.
While they're again retired, the Real Fake Umps continue to support UMPS CARE Charities. "My wife Caroline and I have continued to be an annual sponsor at the UMPS CARE Golf Classic every January in Phoenix," Tim said, "and appreciate the efforts and the charity’s undertakings with ill children, under-privileged youth, and kids awaiting adoption."
And have we seen the last of the Real Fake Umps? Promised Joe, "Due to the popularity of the act, we reserve the right to come out of retirement in the future if or when the time calls for it and we can raise some money for the charity."
We'll all be waiting. – See more at: https://www.umpscare.com/Newsletters.html#Winter 2015 Edition