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Female Referee Appears in Major League Exhibition Game

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Umpire Powell is the third female referee to appear in an MLB exhibition game.

For the first time in 17 years, a female referee stood on the field in an exhibition game in the Major League Baseball (MLB).

The Associated Press reported on the 25th (Korean time), “Jen Powell (47), who has been working as a professional baseball umpire for eight years, has made the leap from ‘minor league umpire' to ‘umpire who made decisions in MLB exhibition games.'” 

Umpire Powell served as the third base umpire in the 1st to 3rd innings, the second base umpire in the 4th to 6th innings, and the first base umpire in the 6th to 9th innings in the 2024 MLB exhibition game between the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals held at Cacti Park of the Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA.

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The Associated Press said, “It is the first time in 17 years that a female referee has appeared in an MLB exhibition game since referee Leah Cortesio in 2007.”

At the same time, referee Powell became the third female referee to appear in an MLB exhibition game, following Pam Postema in 1988 and Cortesio in 2007.

Powell said after the game, “It's a very special day.

The coaches and players of both teams and everyone I met at the stadium today congratulated me.”

Umpire Powell, who played softball in high school, became the seventh female umpire ever hired in the U.S. minor league in 2016.

Last year, he played in the minor league Triple A.

There has yet to be a female referee in the MLB regular season.

The Associated Press said, “Female referees appeared in the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1997, 27 years ago, and in the National Football League (NFL) in 2015.

He also pointed out MLB's conservative stance, saying, “In men's soccer, a female referee presided over the game at the 2022 Qatar World Cup.”

Umpire Powell is considered the most likely candidate to break the glass ceiling that MLB has firmly closed for female referees.

He said , He plans to be on the ground consistently during this spring training period, including serving as the referee in the exhibition game against Washington and Miami Marlins on the 26th.

Currently, there are 76 big league umpires who have signed formal contracts with the MLB Secretariat.

MLB has 76 referees who have signed official contracts with the MLB Secretariat.

When a vacancy occurs, some of the minor league umpires invited to spring camp are called up.

Last year, 21 of the 26 umpires invited to spring camp were called up during the regular season and made decisions in MLB regular season games.

Umpire Powell is a minor league umpire.

Although he is an affiliated player, he was invited to this MLB exhibition game and was named on the list of candidates for the big league substitute referee.



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