On a visit to his father’s veterinarian clinic in Waskom, Texas, Chris Tiller watched his own young son helping out and realized it was time for another career switch.
A former professional baseball umpire who was running a small trucking company at the time, Mr. Tiller had wanted to be a veterinarian like his father when he was growing up. But that goal faded. When he graduated from high school, he pursued a career in baseball instead. He attended Panola College in Texas and was selected in the 41st round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Detroit Tigers in 1998.
Still, Mr. Tiller felt he wouldn’t be good enough to crack the majors and was starting to feel burned out playing the game. He studied computer science briefly at Texas State University but didn’t finish and got married at 21. He decided to get back into baseball and went to Florida to train as a professional umpire, a course that takes about two months.
Mr. Tiller umped in the minor leagues from 2000 to 2011. While he was never added to the permanent roster of major-league umpires, he also called 64 MLB games from 2008 to 2010. His most memorable was when he officiated in a 2008 exhibition game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before a crowd of 115,300.
But the nonstop travel schedule of professional baseball made starting a family difficult. When he missed the birth of his second son in 2010, he decided it was time to leave the sport: “I didn’t want to be on the road the rest of my life.”