As a fill-in umpire for Major League Baseball, Bellino (JD ’03) is seeing plenty from behind home plate. He determined that by the end of the regular baseball season he worked 150 games in the American and National Leagues. On opening day, Bellino was an umpire for the Washington Nationals game where he enjoyed the experience of meeting President Barack Obama, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
“Baseball’s a competitive game. It’s our job to go out there every day and tell the players what happened. We have to remain impartial, keep our cool and be that judge on the field that keeps the game moving,” he stressed.
“If you see the play, and you are in the correct position, significantly more times than not you’re going to get the play right,” he explained. “Instincts are the key ingredient to a successful umpire, and anticipation of the outcome of a play is an umpire’s biggest enemy.”
After an extensive training period in 2003 at Harry Wendelstedt School for Umpires in Daytona Beach, Fla., Bellino starting working minor league games hoping he’d break in to the big leagues. It appears he is nearing the fulfillment of his dream. “This past year was the first time I’d worked almost exclusively for the major leagues,” he said.
Bellino has had months of traveling, hotel living and restaurant food the past seven years, but it’s being away from his family that’s really difficult. He and his wife, Katie, have two young boys and are expecting a third baby this month. He says her willingness to make sacrifices for his career have kept him in the game.
Bellino’s travels got him in to Milwaukee or Chicago ball parks an average of every two to three weeks, so he could be home for a day or two.
In the fall and winter months, Bellino resumes his lawyering. He focuses mostly on real estate work. “It works for me because it’s short term. I couldn’t take on other cases. It is impossible to fulfill my responsibilities of representing my clients when I’m not physically present.”
There are no regrets about his law school
days. In fact, Bellino equates his first call to the big leagues as being a day that is eerily similar to the day he received the news that he passed the bar.
“As a licensed attorney, you dedicate your time and energy to serve the needs of your clients. Umpiring is a lot like practicing law. The main difference is that your mistakes are made public on a daily basis and your successes are expected,” he said. “At the major league level, there is very little room for error. And law school helped me prepare for that responsibility.”
He is happy to have earned a law degree, but right now, Bellino is waiting and hoping for Major League Baseball to offer him a full- time contract. “It’s what I’ve worked for all these years. It is my dream job, and I hope that my career path represents just a small example of the limitless opportunities of what The John Marshall Law School can offer to its future students.”