CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- It wasn’t just an ordinary college baseball game between North Carolina and Virginia.
Thursday, Damian Beal joined Greg Street, Linus Baker, and Randy Watkins as the first all-Black umpire crew to work a Power-5 conference game.
“There’s an older black lady who works the gate where we walk in. And it kind of hit me when I saw her face when she saw four black guys walk in. And the look on her face was 'man, this is something that is really happening,'" said Beal.
Beal started umpiring as a teenager with his father.
And when pro-baseball didn’t work out, he turned it into a career.
“It is tough for a minority to break in. For me, I will say I’ve definitely been blessed. And I’ve had great success with not only getting in but to excel and move through the ranks," said Beal.
Beal, who lives in Tampa with his family, has been umpiring for more than 25 years, including time in the major leagues.
He even went toe to toe with Tommy Lasorda.
The Atlantic Coast Conference’s Supervisor of Officials says having an all-Black crew is long overdue, and this might have been the first time it’s happened at any level, including the major leagues.
Beal says this series will be business as usual. And he continues to remember what his instructors told him many years ago.
“When you are going to work you don’t just represent Damien Beal, but you represent all people of color so you have to conduct yourself accordingly because you’ll be paving the way for others to come behind you."