Jen Pawol - first female MLB umpire ever? WBSC

After umpiring at the Triple-A level in 2023, the 47-year-old former softball catcher was called up by the Houston Astros-Washington Nationals of the Cactus League and is on the call list for 2024.

New Jersey native Jennifer Pawol became only the third woman to umpire in Major League Baseball (MLB) spring training, joining Pam Postema (1988) and Ria Cortesio (2007). She umpired third base during a game between the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals as informed the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC). 

Pawol, 47, played soccer and softball at Hofstra University. She was a softball catcher and developed an interest in umpiring. After graduating from Pratt Institute and Hunter College, she worked as an art teacher and became a part-time softball umpire. 

In 2016, she attended the Minor League Baseball Umpire Training Academy in Vero Beach, Florida. Minor League Baseball reported that her performance at the academy "led to a spot in the MiLB Advanced Course, which she completed in 2017."

She began her professional baseball career in the Gulf Coast League in 2017. During the 2023 season, she worked at the Triple-A level in both the International League and the Pacific Coast League, becoming the first Triple-A woman in 34 years. Pawol was the home plate umpire during for the Triple-A National Championship Game and will be a crew chief during the 2024 Triple-A season. MLB has placed her on the call-up list for the 2024 season.

"I've heard a lot of you are going to do it. You'll be the first. Go for it," Pawol told the Philadelphia Inquirer.