Before calling balls and strikes at tonight’s game between the Angels and Orioles at Camden Yards, home plate umpire Fieldin “Cubby” Culbreth made sure a baseball season tradition wouldn’t be swept away because of COVID-19 precautions at the Johns Hopkins Childrens Center in Baltimore.
Culbreth and Ryan Blakney, another of the men in blue assigned to tonight’s game, participated in a special question-and-answer session over Zoom with young patients undergoing treatment at the hospital. Furry Build-A-Bear Workshop creations were delivered to the facility to brighten the days of these patients, who are dealing with serious illness and injuries - just as they have been for the past 15 years.
COVID-19 may have made the program virtual, but the men in blue remain committed to making sure these children and their families know they are not alone or forgotten. It’s the continuation of a program developed by UMPS CARE Charities, the official philanthropy of Major League Baseball umpires.
“All of us at UMPS CARE Charities are so grateful that our longtime collaborators at Johns Hopkins have made this event possible,” said Jennifer Skolochenko-Platt, executive director of the group. “Our umpires look forward to visiting these kids and brightening their day every season, and we are glad that even during these challenging times, we can continue to bring smiles to the faces of these young patients and to the health care workers who have been through so much these past couple of years.”
MLB and Bristol-Meyers Squibb offered financial support for the event, which also included the distribution of outfits for the Build-A-Bear creations and activity books to the young patients.