Brownsburg man skips college to pursue dream of becoming MLB umpire

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) –“It’s hard not to be romantic about baseball.” The line became famous in the 2011 movie “Moneyball,” and that could be the town of Brownsburg’s slogan.

The Little League has gone to the World Series, the high school has won state titles and produced several Major League Baseball players. And there could be another type future MLB product from the Hendricks County community.

So what is it about Brownsburg and baseball? High School Coach Eric Mattingly said it’s in the blood.

“I think kids just get involved at a really young age, which kind of gets the parents involved, and the community involved.” Mattingly said.

24-Hour News 8 spoke with Mattingly before Senior Night. A night where parents show up early.

“All of the kids train together in the off-season, it’s a real bond that they form,” one parent said about town’s love of America’s past-time.

The program has produced major league players Tucker Barnhart, Drew Storen and Lance Lynn. They all started in the town’s Little League, a league that has gone to play in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

“They know baseball. By the time they get up to us at the high school level, they know things that by the time they get up to us at the high school level, that a lot of other high school kids don’t that weren’t as involved.” Coach Mattingly added.

But it’s not just the players that have big league dreams.

“One of the things they said at umpiring school is you gotta remember, you’re an athlete too.” 20-year-old Chris Claffey said.

“So you have to do all the stretching, you have to eat right, and stay hydrated.” Claffey added before umpiring a local high school game.

Claffey is a Brownsburg High School grad, and his love for the game began in Little League too.

“I didn’t have the skill to be a player, not even close.” Claffey said.

But he still loved the game, and wanted to make it a career.

“Without umpires you can’t play baseball.” He added.

So instead of college, he went to umpiring school in Florida.

“I have a love of rules anyway.” He said

After graduation, he came back to Central Indiana to umpire High School games, where at 20-years-old he’s not much older than the players. But like them, he has big league dreams too.

“I’m hoping to move on to Minor League baseball and hopefully make it to Major League baseball.”

And maybe, just maybe, be the next baseball product from this baseball haven.

“Being from a community with such rich background, you know he knows baseball, he’s been around it, and enjoys it. So excited to see what he does.” Coach Mattingly said.

Claffey said he will finish out the high school and the summer seasons before returning to Umpiring School in January.

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