PARKER---A group of marines suffering from a wide variety of injuries are in Parker this week learning how to take control of an entirely different battlefield. They want to become umpires, some with aspirations of making it to the Major Leagues.
The group of 14 come from the Wounded Warrior Battalion in Camp Lejeune, NC where they all currently spend time going to doctors' appointments or enduring physical therapy. This week is an escape where they learn everything from how to call balls and strikes to dealing with unruly coaches.
"They are perfect for a job like this. They're calm under pressure, they're natural born leaders and that's what you want on the baseball field," said umpire instructor and veteran, Jimmy Craig.
He said day one was comical as some of the guys didn't even know how to get the mask on correctly. But days later they are working games on their own, forced to make the tough calls. It's a job they take seriously.
"The kids are leaving it up to you. We're here to preserve the integrity of the game," said Corporal Chris Shiver who ran over a couple improvised explosive devices in his time in combat. He now suffers from PTSD.
Organizers of this event hope to make it an annual camp growing to 40 marines in umpire training next year. When they return to North Carolina they'll be calling games alongside umpires who are also Veterans.