Chad Fairchild is glad to be home.
If for no other reason, the veteran Major League Baseball umpire will be able to watch his sophomore son, Tanner, play in Out-Of-Door Academy’s second playoff football game on Friday night.
“Fortunately, they won their first game last weekend,” said Fairchild, a 1989 Western Reserve graduate. “I might be a bit biased, but Tanner is a good one. He starts at outside linebacker as a sophomore on an Academy team and that is saying a lot.”
Unquestionably, Fairchild is more than ready to watch a different sporting event — although he called last week’s assignment at the World Series the pinnacle of his major league umpiring career.
The Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games, with the series ending Sunday night at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Fairchild worked first base for the record-long 18-inning game won by the Dodgers Friday into Saturday morning — then was behind the plate calling balls and strikes in Game 4 Saturday night.
“Every umpires dream is a World Series assignment,” he said. “That dream is realized only after you have been graded out among the best during the season by former umpires who now have new assignments as roving supervisors. In the end, you only hope you are on that short list.”
Asked if it was hard to adjust to an all new crew for the series, Fairchild said that those who have been picked are solid enough in every aspect of working the game. That includes being able to mesh with umpires they have never worked with before.
“The World Series crew was absolutely fantastic,” he said. “Never any problem.”
And what about standing throughout the grueling 18-inning game that lasted seven hours and 20 minutes?
“Certainly was a challenge, but I pride myself in being in good shape, so I had no problem staying out there on my feet for seven hours,” Fairchild said. “Hey, and we were part of history, the longest postseason game in MLB history. It’s always nice to be part of history.”
And the Saturday night primetime assignment of working the plate at Dodger Stadium?
“Although I guess it was anything but, I tried to look at it as just another home plate assignment,” he said. “A lot of pressure for sure with millions watching. But to be honest, I thought I called a good game.
“I know home plate umpires are graded out on every time we call balls and strikes and those results are tabulated — but to be honest, as we see it, it just makes a for a good news story,” Fairchild added. “We are out there looking to do our best no matter the importance of the game. First and foremost, there are not that many of us. We have worked our way to major league umpiring status.”
If working the plate on a Saturday night nationally-televised prime-time World Series game was the highlight of his career, what about the possibility of his being named a crew chief in the not-to-distance future?
“That would be nice, but to my way of thinking, working an All-Star game and now seven postseason series would get my vote,” he said. “The pride of being selected and then walking out onto that field and getting the respect of the players means a lot.
“I know the crew all went their separate ways after the Sunday night game, but we left knowing there were no glaring errors,” Fairchild added. “That says a lot, because every game an umpire has a distinctly different field of play to manage.”
Fairchild will get a couple of months off to spend time with wife, Daria, stepdaughter, Angelina, and Tanner. First on the 2019 calendar is winter umpire meetings in Arizona. Shortly thereafter, spring training games start followed by the 2019 season, which will be his 15th as an MLB umpire.
“The hard part is being away from home for long stretches,” Fairchild said. “I do get five weeks vacation which helps break up the stays away from home. Daria and I made a pact awhile back that we would spend no more than two weeks apart. Arrangements are made for her to fly in to my assignment where we would spend a weekend together.”
One thing the 1997 Bluffton University graduate is hoping for is at least one series in Cleveland in 2019. He didn’t have a regular season assignment just 45 minutes to the east of his hometown, but did have a one-game visit when he worked up the left-field line during the Indians’ Game 3 American League Division Series loss vs. Houston on Oct. 8.
“Two series would be even nicer, because the bonus is a nightly trip home to Wakeman to visit with the family (Pamela and Chet),” Fairchild said. “It’s always nice to partake in some good, home cooking and sleep in a bed I have never gotten use to being without.”