MLB umpires visit sick children at Johns Hopkins Hospital

BALTIMORE - They may be all business on the ball fields, but take a look at the softer side of Major League Baseball umpires.

While in town for the Tampa Bay Rays series vs. the Orioles, these guys take time at the oncology unit of Johns Hopkins' Children Center.

It's part of "Umps Care Charities," a program that reaches out to children centers around the country with 12 visits each season.

"We have a reputation on the field and we have a reputation off the field,” said MLB umpire Laz Diaz. “We’re all fun-loving. We all have families back home. We all have kids."  

Diaz, who has spent 16 years an umpire for MLB, just melts in the company of these kids.

"It’s very heartbreaking at times when you're home and you got your own kids and their healthy, fine and doing well,” Diaz said. “And then you come in here and see these kids that are fighting for their lives, fighting their disease."

Three year-old Trenten takes an immediate liking to Diaz. It's this kind of connection these umps hope for.

"It gives the kids something to do,” said Mary Brandon, Trenten’s mom. “They get to see the people that they see on the TV. And they're like, "Hey, I know that guy. Yeah, I think it's good for the kids."

And no visit can be complete without a little local help from the Oriole Bird.

"They probably don't smile that much with all the treatment they're going through, and all that,” Diaz said. “And just to bring a smile to these kids' face for one day, it's just very heartwarming."

Umps Care Charities does a lot in communities across the country offering scholarships helping at risk youth and raising awareness for children waiting to be adopted.

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