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Local baseball umpires impacted by COVID-19

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DU QUOIN (WSIL) -- Baseball is a bond for lots of fathers and sons. It is for me and my dad.

The athletes aren't the only ones that miss taking the field during the coronavirus quarantine.

There's a third team that takes the field, the umpires.

Umpiring is a way of life for the Pavloff family. Greg has been an umpire for 37 years, and his son Kolton is an umpire, too. They were scheduled to work a dozen games this season, and now they may not get that chance.

"It's a huge bond between us, the game of baseball just in general, but being able to work with him is irreplaceable," Kolton Pavloff said. "That time we get to spend, yeah we're out on a ballfield, and we may not be able to be next to each other like we are now, but we can look at each other the whole time and know what the other is thinking. We always know where the other one is going to be, so it's a huge bond that we've built."

"I've pretty much stayed in the game as long as I have because I wanted to get Kolton started, and I don't work a full schedule like I used to, and I'm pretty selective anymore. My schedule is very limited, but I do work a few games simply because I do want to work with Kolton, but at the same time I want Kolton working with a lot of other officials because he needs to work with other guys not just me exclusively. I work a game or two a week at max right now, but I like to have Kolton out there working with other good officials he can learn from, because as an official, because the best way we can learn is by learning from each other," Greg Pavloff said.

"We do work together. It's fun I guess for us personally, for me personally. We got an opportunity a year or so ago to work for a high school game at Busch Stadium, and so we worked that together and that was pretty special for us."

"Part of the difficulty of this situation is, yeah he is slowing down, and he may not have too many seasons left that he may stick in there or is able to do it, so it is really pressed on me to appreciate and value the times that we do get to go on the field together because you don't know how many when something like this can come up and take time away," Kolton Pavloff said.

This is 15-20 percent of an income for you so the start of the season is already missed, do you already feel the impact?

"Fifteen percent is probably a closer number. As an official, you anticipate with outdoor sports you are going to lose games to weather. You're going to lose them, you anticipate that, but you never anticipate losing all of it."

"And for many officials it is, it isn't a primary source of income, it's more of a bonus income that you use for things, extra things," Greg Pavloff said. "Taking your family on a vacation or things like that, but it still has an impact, and there are some officials, and I know some that are full time, year-round officials even at the high school level and that is what they do. That is their income for the year. So they are out there, they are hustling, they are working year-round, every sport, as many games as they can, because that is their primary source of income. And for those guys it is going to be tough. They're going to have to tighten their belts."

You've been doing it for so long, so if this happened to you when you were a younger official and your family was younger and Kolton was a little guy, would this have been a much bigger impact?

"Would've been huge in terms of me then because when I was younger I taught school and my particular situation, my summer income wasn't there. I was paid during the school year, so the money I made umpiring in the spring and summer, we ate off of that. That's what paid our bills, and that's what we ate off of. So if it were that situation, it would really be tough. You'd have to figure out some way to make that up in some way, shape or form. And for those young guys, and the guys that are really counting on that for their income to live off of, it's tough. It's going to be tough then because, especially if we can't go back."

Jason Hurst

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