Umpire to work Futures Game, Home Run Derby
By Greg Gulas
When driving about town, you’ve probably noticed multiple Par Insurance Agency billboards featuring their newest agent, John Mang.
On Monday evening, the nation will definitely take notice of the Austintown native when he works home plate during Major League Baseball’s T-Mobile Home Run Derby at Washington Nationals Park.
It has become arguably a staple of all-star week festivities.
“I truly am humbled at being selected to work three such high-profile events at this year’s MLB All-Star Game,” Mang said. “There are so many deserving umpires out there, all of whom very hard at honing their craft. I consider myself very fortunate, but also realize that luck and being in the right place at the right time also factors into the selection process.”
Currently in his sixth Minor League season, Mang is currently in his third year in the Class AA Eastern League and his second consecutive as crew chief.
He started out in the New York-Penn League in 2013, was promoted to the Midwest League in 2014 and in 2015, was assigned to the Florida State League.
One of four Class AA umpires selected for this weekend’s events, Mang is the lone Eastern League representative.
He will join Class AA colleagues Malachi Moore and Kyle McCrady of the Texas League, and Edwin Moscoso of the Southern League as they also work today’s SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and its Legends and Celebrity softball game.
Mang received the good news last month prior to working a Hartford Yard Goats game in Hartford, Connecticut.
“My supervisor, Darren Spagnardi, was in town and he pulled me out of the locker room asking if he could talk with me. Sometimes that isn’t a good thing,” Mang said. “Along with my crewmates [Taka Matsuda and Aaron Higgins], I felt like we were having a good season, didn’t incur any problems to date so I really couldn’t imagine what he needed to talk about with me. I wasn’t anticipating any bad news.
“He then went on to tell me that I had been one of the four AA umpires selected to work at this year’s all-star game. I was absolutely elated and wanted to celebrate immediately but couldn’t because I had a game that night. Until you get to Class AAA, when you become eligible to work spring training games and are made available for a call-up to the majors, this is the biggest honor that you can receive as an umpire.”
Mang spent Saturday traveling to Washington with his wife, the former Jolene Libert and their son, Johnny — the couple is expecting their second child, a son, on Aug. 30. A walk-through for the umpires was scheduled at Nationals Park.
“I just found out on Thursday that I will have the plate for the home run derby contest,” he stated. “I must admit that while there isn’t a bad seat in the house for any of us, home plate definitely is a darn good view. I know it will be a lot of fun.”
Scott Ruark, current Class B League president, managed Mang when they were with the Astro Falcons franchise.
“I cannot tell you proud I am personally, and the entire Class B League is of John and his meteoric rise in professional baseball,” Ruark said. “He was a bulldog when he played for me, someone who always wanted the ball with the game on the line. He was a pleasure to coach and is someone who has definitely turned out to be a great young man.”
Mike Cefalde, a longtime Class B manager currently with Roth Brothers, said Mang is carrying on the rich local umpiring tradition that has seen two other Austintown natives, Brian O’Nora and the late Wally Bell, as well as Poland’s John Hirschbeck and Salem’s Jerry Meals umpiring at the game’s highest level.
“Like his father, he is a great role model and I couldn’t be prouder of him and how fast he has progressed through the ranks,” Cefalde said.
Mang said a great support system, especially on the home front, helps to keep his dream alive.
“With children at home it is definitely a challenge and so many people have sacrificed in order to help me keep my dream alive,” he said. “I need to thank my wife, Jolene first and foremost, my parents [John and Cindy] and my in-laws [Jim and Mary Jo Libert]. Without their help and support I wouldn’t be able to do what I love.”
When their assignments are completed, each umpire will stay in Washington fpr an extra day to take in the mid-summer classic as they enjoy a well-deserved day off.
“We’ll enjoy the experience, that’s for sure,” Mang said. “I’ll definitely savor the moment because you never know if this will be a one-time thing. You might never get back here again.”
Today’s Futures game (featuring the top prospects from each organization) begins at 4 p.m. and will be televised on the MLB Network.
The Legends and Celebrity softball game will follow and will be televised by ESPN after the conclusion of Monday’s home run derby, which begins at 8 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.