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Before Balls and Strikes, Umpires Make a Call to Pray

CHICAGO — The umpires dialed in at about 3 p.m. on a Friday, calling from places like St. Louis and Oakland, Seattle and Cleveland.

It was time to pray.

“God is our father,” Ted Barrett, a major league umpire for over two decades and an ordained Southern Baptist minister, told the men. “He loves to hear from us, and so don’t ever feel like he’s too big or too busy to bring your little problem to him.”

The umpires on the line had endured all manner of turmoil: anger or family troubles, addiction or overwhelming grief, loneliness and the agony of imperfection.