Reilly umps 4,000th game in Detroit
Early season rainout allows family, friends to see milestone
DETROIT -- A bit of good luck came to umpire Mike Reilly when a game he was scheduled to work in Chicago was rained out about a month ago. That rainout meant he could share a special milestone with his family on Tuesday before the Tigers game against the Angels at Comerica Park.
Because the rainout game was pushed back to later in the season, Reilly umpired the 4,000th game of his 31-year career in Detroit, about 150 miles away from Battle Creek, Mich., where he and his family live, rather than in Boston as originally scheduled.
"That just means it's a more hectic day arranging everything," Reilly joked. "It is kind of ironic, but in a lot of ways its good because my brothers are here and my wife and my four children can make it."
Those five members of Reilly's immediate family weren't the only ones that traveled to Comerica for Reilly's historic game. He used all 24 tickets that were allotted to the four-man umpire crew on other family members and also helped arrange about 30 other tickets for members of his sons' high school baseball team.
Reilly was honored on the field before the game by Battle Creek St. Philip High School, where two of his sons are currently in the baseball program, and a school where Reilly hosts an umpire clinic that helps support the program. His oldest son also graduated from St. Philip and now plays at Division III Albion (Mich.) College.
"We've been doing the fundraiser here for about five years and it's actually been our largest fundraiser that helps run our baseball program," said Reilly, who was given a plaque from St. Philip head coach Mike Bess on Tuesday for his support.
Reilly, who graduated from St. Philip in 1968, umpired his first Major League game in 1977 and said the biggest difference between now and then is the increased media coverage.
"When I first broke in, we were lucky to have just one Saturday game of the week," Reilly said. "Now every game we have is televised and on SportsCenter and every mistake we make is magnified because highlights are replayed all day. I know now that the caliber of umpiring now is better than when I broke in."
The change hasn't seemed to bother Reilly much, who has umpired a World Series in three different decades (1984, 1992 and 2000) as well as three All-Star Games, five Division Series and seven Championship Series. After all of those accomplishments, Reilly, 57, still said he isn't ready to consider retirement anytime soon.
"You never think of 4,000 games, you just think of years," said Reilly, who has umpired three All-Star Games and three World Series. "You want to get 20 years in and then you get 20 years in then you want to go to 25 and 30. Now I'm at 31.
"I'm fortunate I'm in good health and good shape. I still like doing what I do and its fun for me so we'll see how far it takes me."
Tim Kirby is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.