Nelson umpires All-Star Game back in home state

A Cottage Grove native will work his second All-Star Game, first as crew chief.


Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell argues with home plate umpire Jeff Nelson during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park in Boston, Tuesday, May 7, 2013.

Photo: Elise Amendola, Associated Press - Ap

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It’s a five-hour drive from Miller Park in Milwaukee to Target Field, home of the 2014 All-Star Game.

Jeff Nelson, who was one of the umpires during the Brewers-Cardinals series over the weekend, was prepared to make the drive if his flight ran into inclement weather. The Cottage Grove native wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to serve as the crew chief in the Twin Cities on Tuesday.

“It’s like a Final Four, Super Bowl type of event — and it’s right here where we grew up,” Nelson said.

Nelson told Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Joe Torre that he’d love the opportunity to umpire an All-Star Game if it ever were held in Target Field. The same year he was promoted to a crew chief position he received the All-Star assignment, serving as the first base umpire

“I kind of feel a part of the whole thing,” said Nelson, 49. “Growing up, the All-Star Game was always a larger-than-life event. I used to watch it as a kid and hope you’d have some kind of role in the game.”

Nelson, who is in his 21st season, never expected umpiring to be his career. The last time the Midsummer Classic was held in the Twin Cities, in 1985, Nelson was completing his undergraduate degree in history at Bethel University, where he paid part of his tuition by umpiring high school games.

“I was paying attention to the umpires back then, but I didn’t have plans to become a professional one,” said Nelson, who still remembered that Larry McCoy was the plate umpire in the 1985 game.

Nelson briefly attended Pepperdine Law School but nixed his plan to become a lawyer and at 23 enrolled in an umpiring school in Florida run by veteran Joe Brinkman, who is from Holdingford, Minn.

He worked as an umpire for 10 years in the minor leagues until he was promoted to the majors in 1999.

This will be Nelson’s second All-Star Game; he also worked the 2006 game in Pittsburgh.

In addition, he worked the 2005 and 2009 World Series. He missed three months during the 2007 season while being treated for testicular cancer.

The opportunity to serve as the crew chief and first base umpire in an All-Star Game at Target Field will bring Nelson’s career full circle. He hopes to learn from his All-Star Game experience and get a chance to stop and enjoy the rare spectacle in the Twin Cities.

“It doesn’t happen that many times in your lifetime; it’s something special,” Nelson said. “A lot of times we’re grinding through these cities and going in and out, here and there going to hotels. This is one of those events where you stop, go to the event, look around and say, ‘This is pretty cool.’”

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Tampa 0 Top 5th Inning
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 48 3rd Qtr 9:07
Chicago 52
Cleveland 2:30 PM
Golden State 5:00 PM
Philadelphia 5:00 PM
Portland 5:00 PM
Charlotte 5:00 PM
Oklahoma City 5:30 PM
LA Lakers
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Los Angeles 3:00 PM
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Toronto 6:00 PM
Anaheim 7:00 PM
St. Louis 8:30 PM
SMU 10 1st Half 11:12
Connecticut 15
Quinnipiac 15 1st Half 10:25
Manhattan 14
Fairfield 11 1st Half 11:50
Niagara 12
Marist 8 1st Half 12:25
Rider 5
Iona 15 1st Half 9:55
Saint Peters 23
Oregon State 2:00 PM
South Florida 2:00 PM
Marquette 2:30 PM
Michigan State 3:00 PM
Siena 3:30 PM
Pittsburgh 5:30 PM
Wake Forest
Oregon 6:00 PM
Purdue 6:30 PM
Ohio State
Arizona State 7:30 PM
Washington St 8:30 PM
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 38 2nd Half 12:02
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Hofstra 29
Virginia Tech 41 2nd Half 10:45
Boston College 34
(8) Louisville 43 2nd Half 11:54
Virginia 43
Texas 41 2nd Half 12:50
West Virginia 36
Creighton 37 2nd Half 11:00
Villanova 35
Seton Hall 63 2nd Half 5:00
Butler 65
UNC-Wilmington 40 2nd Half 15:50
Coll of Charleston 33
(5) Maryland 51 2nd Half 9:30
(25) Northwestern 37
Saint Josephs 51 2nd Half 8:19
La Salle 36
Louisiana Tech 24 2nd Half 15:12
TX-San Antonio 39
Rhode Island 13 1st Half 12:29
Massachusetts 10
Richmond 8 1st Half 11:33
VA Commonwealth 13
Davidson 8 1st Half 13:20
Fordham 15
St Bonaventure 12 1st Half 9:40
Duquesne 13
George Mason 2 1st Half 12:21
(22) George Washington 21
Indiana 13 1st Half 10:37
(20) Rutgers 17
(12) Texas A&M 6 1st Half 15:33
LSU 13
Ole Miss 9 1st Half 12:32
(11) Miss State 6
Clemson 13 1st Half 12:09
Pittsburgh 4
Maine 15 1st Half 10:12
New Hampshire 9
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Albany 18
Quinnipiac 11 1st Half 11:45
Monmouth 7
Saint Peters 8 1st Half 14:24
Siena 6
(4) Notre Dame 14 1st Half 12:16
NC State 8
Wisconsin 16 1st Half 9:46
Penn State 12
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Hartford 7
Northeastern 9 1st Half 11:49
William & Mary 18
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Xavier 4
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Delaware 19
Towson 2:00 PM
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Northern Iowa 2:00 PM
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Dayton 2:00 PM
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Missouri State
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(19) Stanford 3:00 PM
Marquette 3:00 PM
Southern Miss 3:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
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(6) Tennessee
(2) South Carolina 4:00 PM
(13) Kentucky
Utah 4:00 PM
Ohio State 4:00 PM
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