The father of a Montgomery County high school baseball standout could play a key role in the 2022 World Series, but don’t confuse “local” with “Phillies fan.”
Alan Porter, a ten-year veteran major league umpire, is one of seven assigned by Major League Baseball to work the World Series. He is also the father of Trey Porter, the leadoff hitter, pitcher and center fielder for the Hatboro-Horsham Hatters.
“He didn’t care who he judged. It’s a job for him, and he’s completely neutral in terms of teams. He never talks about any team more than any other, so there’s no bias,” Hatborough-Horsham coach Pete Moore said.
“My best friend is one of the judges so it’s really cool to see him get to that level,” he said.
Moore said Friday that he and Alan Porter have known each other since the mid-1990s. “We grew up playing baseball together and he was a great baseball player. He started in center field at Hatboro-Horsham, and he was a first-team all-league player for several years in a row.”
After playing college baseball, Porter decided to don the black mask and pads and became a local umpire, then attended the official MLB umpiring school.
“They rate all the umpires and he ranked very high, almost the highest in his class, and they offered him the minor league baseball job based on those ratings,” he said.
“It’s a lot like being a baseball player — you have to work your way up the system. There isn’t much fame and glory when you start out, the pay isn’t great, and the journey is even worse than a player because you don’t have a home field. You’re always on the go, but he made it work.”
By 2010, Porter had made his major league debut, playing a total of 35 major league games at the age of 32. Moore said that when new umpires are called up to the major leagues, “you’re called a ‘walker’ — you jump between the minor leagues and the major leagues, and you kind of fill in when other guys are on vacation or injured.” Porter became a full-time major league umpire in 2013, was named a no-hitter in 2014, worked right field in the 2015 All-Star Game, was at home plate in Game 1 of the 2019 World Series and could return there again soon.
“The rotation starts in right field, so he’ll be the umpire in right field tonight” for Game 1, Moore said Friday.
“He’ll go from right field to left field in the second game, and then in the third game, he’ll be at third base, in the fourth game, at second base, in the fifth game, at first base, and then they give you a rest before you work at home plate, so it’s game six and then game seven, at home plate,” he said.
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“I think he’s honored to be able to work the World Series, for sure, and in my opinion, to be the umpire for Game 7 of the World Series, there’s nothing bigger than that.”
And before you ask, just because he’s from our area doesn’t mean he leans one way during games.
“It’s a job for him. And I think that’s one of the things that makes him so successful is that he’s able to have a low heart rate. No matter where he is, no matter what the moment is, it never seems to be too big for him,” Moore said.
Something to keep in mind while watching, according to the coach: The pitch of the strike zone you see on the screen while watching from home isn’t necessarily what the umpires are judged on. Moore said umpires are graded every game and given a two-inch buffer zone around MLB’s official strike zone, and Porter’s fielding and hitting percentages are “always off the charts.” He does a tremendous job, as do many major league umpires, and he’s always at or near the top.”
He’ll be busy this week, but during the regular season, Porter has been known to drop in to watch Trey and the Hatters’ home games at Hatboro-Horsham, and “he’s just another dad when Trey’s around.”
“He just knows his job, and I guess he’s just so well-prepared and played so many games that once the game starts, you kind of hear the players saying, ‘It’s just a game again,’ and for him it is too.” It’s just really cool to see him there.”
And while he’ll be keeping a close eye on Porter, Moore said he hopes his friend gets at least one day off: “I’ve got Phyllis in six. I think they come apart in Houston, I think they take two out of three at home, and they win again in Houston, and then they come home as champions.”