Defense Logistics Agency Cybersecurity Director to Umpire in College World Series

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Linus Baker got the call he’d been hoping for three weeks ago when traveling to Charlotte, North Carolina, to umpire at the Athletic Coast Conference men’s baseball tournament.

After 20 years as a college baseball umpire, including the last seven years in the Athletic Coast Conference, the NCAA umpire coordinator called Baker to tell him he’d been selected as one of only eight umpires for the Men’s College World Series, which begins June 14 in Omaha, Nebraska. 

“He simply said to me, ‘Welcome to Omaha,’ and I tell you, I teared up. I rarely do that,” said Baker, director of cybersecurity at the Defense Logistics Agency. “After putting in the amount of work that I have and getting so close to being selected these last four or five years, it was very emotional for me.” 

Baker said there are over 3,000 umpires in Division I baseball, and 96 of them are selected to umpire NCAA post-season games, which include the opening round, known as the regionals, and the second round, called super regionals. Baker has umpired 14 regionals, five super regionals and was an alternate for the College World Series last year. 

The competition to be an umpire in the CWS is stiffer than it was when he started two decades ago, Baker said, because the pool of umpires with professional experience in minor and major league baseball has grown. 

“Only three of the eight umpires working this year’s CWS are amateurs like me. The remaining are ex-professionals who have been umpires in at least Triple-A baseball with formal training at an umpire school,” Baker said. “I never had that. That’s the kind of competition I’m in.” 

Being passed over led him to rededicate himself, he said, using it as incentive to stay fit mentally and physically. 

“When you have a passion for something, you go above and beyond to be good at it,” he said, noting that it can be tough when you have a full-time job and a family because it requires a lot of traveling. 

The Division I baseball committee bases CWS umpire selections on evaluations and a formal nomination process, Baker said. 

His love for baseball began when he was 5 years old, and it grew as he played throughout high school and during his four years at Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, Georgia, where he also graduated with a computer science degree. 

After college, Baker spent four years in the Army as an intelligence analyst at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He was also the assistant baseball coach at Fort Knox Middle High School. 

His umpire journey began when he moved to Virginia after he finished his enlistment in the Army. He saw a local newspaper ad looking for umpires with youth baseball programs. Through networking, Baker later started working higher-level baseball. 

“It just worked out where those who assign high school teams noticed me, and then, that led to other umpires telling me I should consider an advanced clinic in Florida, so I could potentially work college baseball,” he said. “I attended, and the next thing I know, I’m umping for college games and learning all kinds of new things.”

Baker’s time as a college umpire nearly mirrors his years with DLA. Other than a brief stint as a government contractor after serving in the military, the majority of Baker’s career has been in DLA. He sees similarities in both professions. 

“It’s difficult enough to master all the baseball rules and be very proficient at it, but the toughest thing is managing the people and all the situations you’re put in,” he said. “It’s those soft skills that you really can’t teach, which are comparable to what I do as the director of cybersecurity.”

Overseeing a team of about 300 government employees and contractors means Baker has to find the right ways to manage people with different backgrounds, ideas and expertise. Though books can help him learn the principles of cybersecurity, he has to earn the trust of those he leads just as he does on the baseball field. 

“Being an umpire involves being in control. It’s about your poise, your mannerisms and how you manage all the different things happening on the field,” he said. “Everyone must believe in you or else they’ll question everything you do. Similarly, I do that in my leadership role at DLA.”

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