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Woman umpire Jen Pawol will work some MLB Spring Training games

We might be getting close to seeing a woman umpire in the major leagues.

Jen Pawol during an Arizona Fall League game in October 2023
Photo by Zac BonDurant/MLB Photos

Today, Major League Baseball announced the names of several umpires who will be working Spring Training games in Arizona and Florida along with the full-time MLB umpiring staff.

Among those names was Jen Pawol, who has been umpiring in the minor leagues since 2016. At the time she began her career, she was the seventh woman umpire to work in the minors.

Pawol worked in Triple-A last year and will be assigned there this year, where she will be part of the pool of umpires eligible for a potential call-up to the Major Leagues for substitutions due to injuries and vacation time, according to a league source.

Previously, Pam Postema worked some Spring Training games in 1988 and 1989, and Ria Cortesio umpired a Cubs Spring Training game in 2007, which I wrote about on this site at the time, including this memorable moment:

“Put the girl over there!”

That’s what someone on the LF lawn yelled when Cubs minor league catcher Mark Reed was called out at first base in the fourth inning by major league umpire Mike Winters on a very close play.

Everyone laughed, but the best thing about Ria Cortesio’s appearance as one of the three-person umpiring crew today, the first time a woman has called plays at a Cactus League game since 1989, is that she wasn’t noticed. And when an umpire is doing his — or HER — job, that’s the best thing you can say, that they weren’t noticed.

The NFL, NBA and NHL have all employed women as referees in recent years, and I’m glad to see MLB joining the party. Jen Pawol’s work has been highly praised and she will be working spring games on the East Coast of Florida.

I hope we see her on a MLB field soon.