Mark A. Letendre, ATC
Name and title: Mark A. Letendre, ATC, Director of Umpire Medical Services, Office of the Commissioner, Major League Baseball (MLB)
Describe your setting:
I work from Scottsdale, AZ, and am responsible for the health and welfare of 74 Major League and 22 Minor League Call-Up Umpires. This is a year-round job with primary duties as a Medical Navigator charged with responsibilities that include pre-employment physicals; umpire specific functional activity assessments; lifestyle management and nutrition; handling stress, sleep, travel, injury and illness; and head blow awareness.
In addition, I have an acute sense of workers’ compensation and personal insurance rules and regulations, as well as familiarity with labor relation laws and working with a collective bargaining unit.
I work alongside a primary care/sports medicine physician, Dr. Steven Erickson, and Minor League Coordinator of Umpire Medical Services, Mark Stubblefield, ATC, to oversee the virtual medical network in place – from Seattle, WA, to Miami, FL, and Boston, MA, to San Diego, CA, and Major League cities in between, including Toronto, Canada.
How long have you worked in this setting?
I am presently in my 15th year in this position and 37th overall in professional baseball.
Describe your typical day:
I am on call 24/7, from the first day of Spring Training games in early March until the conclusion of the World Series in late October. I have set up a phone texting program with Major League Baseball Advance Media Group for immediate alert of an umpire illness or injury on the field as well as video clips of any ball, bat or bodily contact with an umpire. The video clips are emailed for review the next day.
Daily responsibilities include the following:
· Work hand and glove with home team medical staff that is charged with triaging any acute injury or illness. Once an umpire is diagnosed, he either continues with home team medical staff for care or enters the MLB Virtual Medical Care Network
· Set up appointment(s) for care and provide any support that is needed within the Medical Network for an umpire unable to work
· Work daily with Director of MLB Umpiring Randy Marsh to make sure if a replacement umpire is needed, he will arrive in time for the game and estimate how long the MLB umpire will be out. MLB always wants to start a game with four umpires
· Text, email or phone an umpire who may have sustained an illness or injury and communicate with the attending health professionals as well as with Dr. Erickson
· Assemble all medical records and enter into Umpire Electronic Record Program
· Process bills for treatments, supplies and services not covered by workers’ compensation
· Work with medical provider billing departments so bills for services are earmarked correctly for processing
· Prepare Mid Week Umpire Health Status Report for weekly Umpire Department conference call
· Submit End of Week Umpire Health Status Report to Umpire Department supervisors and administration staff and the umpire union, World Umpire Association
· Attempt to stay current with ever-changing sports medicine care information, particularly in concussion care, heat illness, sleep deprivation, stress and protective equipment
What do you like about your position?
I enjoy every day because it has new challenges that require multi-level problem solving. I am blessed knowing that I am contributing to the health of individuals who are charged with the integrity of our national pastime. Sharing all the health information that we Athletic Trainers have acquired empowers the umpires to be knowledgeable about themselves and make the correct calls more often than not!
I am also proud of the fact that the Office of the Commissioner chose an Athletic Trainer over a physical therapist, chiropractor, physician assistant or medical doctor to set up and be in charge of the first ever professional sports Umpire Medical Services Department!
What do you dislike about your position?
Not many dislikes. Not part of my DNA! I do miss the hands-on work and connection that evolves between an AT and his or her patients, and I miss seeing all the wonderful people who have come through my life because of professional baseball.
What advice do you have about your practice setting for a young AT looking at this setting?
VOLUNTEER your time to attain more experience in whatever setting you set your goal for. Heck, had it not been for my volunteering for an American Legion baseball team in my college summer months, perhaps I would not have been as attractive to my first employer, the New York Yankees.
VOLUNTEER for a task, a work group or committee. Sure you will make mistakes, I do every day! However, ask yourself: “What’s the worst that can happen to me? Get fired from volunteer work?” You can’t pay enough for experience.
Go out of your way to “meet and greet” yourself. There many amateur officiating associations that would love the wealth of information you possess!
Never lose your curiosity. Every person is an industrial athlete, much like the MLB and MLB (Minor League Baseball) umpires, so how do you find them to work with?