Major League Baseball umpire Pat Hoberg has always tried to stay away from all the attention that comes with a job that typically only makes headlines when a mistake is made.
But the Iowa native couldn’t avoid it last month. Hoberg was the center of attention for the good news. He had a perfect game, accurately calling every pitch from behind home plate in Game 2 of the World Series.
“I don’t necessarily like the attention because as a referee, it’s better that nobody knows who you are,” Hoberg said in an interview with The Des Moines Register.
Not in this case, however. Everyone in the baseball world knew who Hoberg was after the Urbandale High School and Grand View grad became an unexpected star following Game 2 of the series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros.
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Hoberg, according to Umpire Scorecards, correctly called all 129 pitches made during Game 2. It was an extraordinary feat for any referee, especially considering the amount of scrutiny for each pitch. The perfect game made Hoberg a social media star.
Fans and commentators praised his work. Chicago Cubs star Ian Happ praised Hoberg and his professionalism in a video he posted online after the performance. Interview requests started pouring in. Hoberg said his phone was buzzing with messages from friends.
“When I finished my game at the plate…I didn’t feel like I had my best game, but I didn’t feel like I had my worst game and I knew I I was comfortable with my performance,” Hoberg said. “And then just to blow it up with things like that, just to have all the support and people inquiring about the work that I’ve done…it was pretty cool.”
Hoberg was already considered one of the best umpires in MLB. The 36-year-old made his league debut in 2014 and was promoted to full-time staff in 2017. He has worked three Division Series, one Game/Wild Card Series and one League Championship Series . Hoberg also worked in the replay room for last year’s World Series.
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But this year’s World Series was his first time on the field and on baseball’s biggest stage. And he shone.
“It was probably the best week of my life,” Hoberg said.
The culmination of it all wasn’t the perfect game, though. Hoberg said the best moment came after the series ended and he saw his father, John Hoberg, in the Houston stadium tunnel. The two cried and embraced for a huge hug.
“Probably the proudest moment of my life,” Hoberg said.
Tommy Birch, the Register’s sports entrepreneur and featured reporter, has worked at the newspaper since 2008. He is Iowa’s 2018 and 2020 Sports Writer of the Year. Contact him at [email protected] or 515-284-8468. Follow him on Twitter @TommyBirch.