The Wolf brothers made it to the major leagues in 1999. One of them is more recognizable than the other.The Baltimore Orioles left-handed pitcher Randy Wolf, who signed with the team three weeks ago was there first. He debuted with the Philadelphia Phillies in June 1999.On Sept. 2, 1999 Jim Wolf made his major league debut at third base. He was umpiring there.The Phillies were in San Francisco and Wolf watched from the dugout as his older brother worked third.For the first several years Jim Wolf was in the majors, he worked some games involving his brothers team, perhaps five or ten, Randy Wolf says.These days, the brothers are kept apart in a move Wolf says isnt necessary. Jim Wolf would never favor his brothers team.Jim Wolf worked last years American League Championship Series and FOX viewers got to hear him when he was miked. A bat boy ran out to make a delivery of balls and the umpire asked him his name.Call me Wolfie, the umpire brightly said.The Orioles call his younger brother that, too. He has an unusual perspective on an umpires life.In his 14th season, Randy Wolf has had a long major league career. He made it to the big leagues at 22, and recently turned 36. His brother is 43, and could work another 15 years if he wanted.Its a different life-style for both of us. The one thing Ive gained is perspective on the umpires life. If I play for a team, we have a homestand. Were home for six days, sometimes more, but when youre an umpire, youre city-to-city-to-city-to-city, Wolf said.Its a tough lifestyle. The road to get to the big leagues for an umpire is a long one. Youre in vans for 12 hours a day. The travel is horrible.
Theyre their own traveling secretary. They dont have someone doing it for them.In recent years, Major League Baseball has made travel easier. For Wolf, he lives in a Phoenix suburb, works spring training in Arizona and travels less frequently to the East than some of his colleagues.Its common for some umpiring crews to work consecutive series in Baltimore and Washington to lessen the travel. They get four weeks off per season. Salaries can reach 400,000 for the most senior umps.
Its a tough life, but I know my brother loves it, Randy Wolf says.Because of the schedule, the Wolfs can go for months without seeing each other. Occasionally, theyve met in Phoenix when Randys team was playing the Diamondbacks and Jim had a week off.It is weird to rarely see your brother, he said. The brothers dont keep close watch on each other.Theres tons of times Im sitting in the food room or the clubhouse, and theres a game on. Ill see the umpire make a strike or ball call, and I know its my brother, Wolf said.My brother and I are close, but we rarely talk about baseball. Were around it so much. When we get together, its definitely not about that.Jim Wolf is rated as one of baseballs better umpires. He was behind the plate for Dallas Bradens perfect game in May 2010 and a few weeks later on Jim Joyces crew for Armando Galarragas near-perfect game.Randy Wolf has never been thrown out of a game.I still get mad at umpires. Ill still argue. Im sure if my brother did my game and I felt he missed a call, Id probably get upset. I understand that theyre trying to do the best they can. Just like when I hang a curve ball and they hit a homer, I make a bad pitch, same thing with umpires. Theyre human, he said. They do make bad calls sometime. Theres a respect you have to have, Wolf says.As long as you dont cross that line, its understood you can be mad.
With his personality, hes willing to listen. If you acknowledge you make mistakes, players will forgive you a lot quicker if youre easy to talk to, and they know you care about what you do.The 43-year Wolf has yet to work a World Series. His younger brother hasnt played in one. This year, Jim Wolf switched his number to 28 to match his brothers. Is this the year both of them make it to a World Series? Or can only one?I know he really cares about doing a good job. Hes not punching in, punching out, Wolf said.Players recognize that not only hes enjoying his job, but he wants to do a good job. You feel that.