The Northwoods League, in addition to being a developmental league for players and coaches, also develops umpires. The concentrated game schedule and Minor League-like game conditions give NWL umpires a pre-professional seasoning unparalleled in all of amateur baseball. As a result, more than 100 former umpires have worked in affiliated professional baseball. About 1 in 5 Minor League umpires are Northwoods League alumni during any given season. NWL alumni currently work for MiLB Umpire Development (Tyler Funneman ’02, Mark Lollo ’01, Brian Sinclair ’04) and the Wendelstedt School (Malachi Moore ’11).
The NWL has eleven three-man crews during the regular season. A six-man crew is used during the mid-season All-Star game, with four to six-man crews working playoff games. Umpires receive training throughout the season, plus access to game video for self-evaluation.
Climbing the umpire ranks from Minor League Baseball to Major League Baseball is a long and difficult journey. To date, four former Northwoods League umpires, Delfin Colon (2000), Mark Lollo (2001), Tyler Funneman (2002) and Toby Basner (2004), have worked regular season MLB games. Several others have worked MLB Spring Training games. Check out the list of former Northwoods League umpires that have worked in professional baseball here: Northwoods League Umpires in the Pros.