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Byrne becomes first Aussie ump in MLB
Perth arbiter joins elite group in big leagues
05/16/2014 7:54 PM ET
Jon Byrne is the first ump in Australian history to call a game in MLB.
Jon Byrne is the first ump in Australian history to call a game in MLB. (Kevin Pataky/

Perth's Jon Byrne has joined one of the most elite groups in international sport. Today, Byrne is officiating his first Major League Baseball game: the New York Mets at the Washington Nationals. He's making his appearance as a 'call-up umpire' serving in the absence of regular full-time umpire.

Since 1901 there have been 11 MLB umpires born outside the United States most of whom were born elsewhere in the Americas. There have been none from our neighbouring baseball powerhouses of Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Jon Byrne has genuinely blazed a trail today.

Jon, 31, has been a Minor League Umpire since 2005. As with players, umpires must work their way up through the minor leagues and in his nine professional seasons he has officiated at all levels from Rookie and Advanced Rookie, to Low-A, High-A, Double-A and most recently Triple-A. He began umpiring in 1998 with the WA Baseball Umpires Association. In 2001 he attended an umpire's school in Adelaide which led to national umpiring opportunities with the Under-16s tournament in 2002 and 2003, the Under-18s in 2005 and 2006. After taking up a US Minor League Umpiring role in 2005 he continued to umpire in Australia in the off-season with the Claxton Shield from 2007 to 2010 and the Australian Baseball League in 2011 and 2012.

There are presently 74 full-time Major League Umpires with a pool of 22 Call-Up umpires as back up. They work in 19 crews with each crew typically umpiring two series of three or four games per week. Jon was called-up today to Crew G which is led by 31-year umpiring veteran Dana DeMuth.