Toby Basner hasn't made the major leagues yet, but this is the next best thing.
The 2003 Brookwood High School graduate will get to work a game at Yankee Stadium, calling plays at third base on Sunday.
Basner was one of four Class AA umpires picked for the All-Star Futures Game, which features baseball's top prospects from the minors.
"It's definitely exciting," the Lawrenceville resident said. "It's an honor to be chosen."
Players picked for the Futures Game know that they are likely on the fast track to the big leagues. The same is true for Basner, who called his first game as a 12-year-old at Bethesda Park.
Basner, 23, is the youngest crew chief in the Southern League and one of the youngest umpires above Class A.
A move up to Class AAA as early as next year would put him on the verge of the majors and the realization of his dream.
"My goal has always been to be a big league umpire," Basner said.
For now, he'll have to settle for working at one of baseball's most historic stadiums in a big-time event that is the annual prelude to the All-Star Game.
The Yankees are also moving into a new ballpark next season, which makes this especially memorable. Even the trip to New York City is something new for Basner, though.
"I've never been there," he said.
Basner, who travels the Southern League in a van with his two crew members, will fly out of Jacksonville, Fla., after a game against Mississippi tonight and will have three days in the Big Apple before returning to his Class AA duties next Wednesday.
In addition to the All-Star Futures Game, Basner will work the major league Home Run Derby on Monday night. That will put him on the same field with baseball's biggest stars.
"I don't know exactly what I'll be doing," he said. "I guess I will be working one of the foul lines."
In New York to share the experience will be Basner's parents, Allan and Rhonda.
"They are turning it into a mini-vacation," he said. "I think my dad is more excited than I am."
During the events leading up to the 79th All-Star Game, Basner may even finally meet Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann, another Gwinnett County product.
"He's a year older, but I remember playing against him in youth baseball," Basner said of the Duluth graduate.
Basner played at Brookwood, but gave it up to concentrate on umpiring. He paid his own way through umpire school, got his start in the minors that summer and has made a quick move up the ranks.
This is Basner's second season in the Southern League and fifth in professional baseball.
"I'm younger than most umpires, but I don't think that has worked against me," said Basner, whose father is a long-time amateur umpire. "I think I've always acted older than I am."
Even at his young age, Basner doesn't want to stick around the minors too long in his quest for the majors.
"You don't make much money in the minors," he said. "You can't afford to do it too long."
Class AA umpires make about $2,500 a month for a five-month season, plus expenses. Basner gets an extra $100 a month as a crew chief.
To supplement his income and gain experience, Basner umpired in the Dominican Republic's winter league two years ago and in Venezuela last winter.
"I actually felt safer in Venezuela, because the security was better," he said. "But you didn't want to make it obvious that you were an American walking down the street. You have to be aware of the political situation."
Things can get sticky on the baseball field anywhere. But Basner is noted for his decisiveness and the ability to keep his cool.
"That's part of being an umpire," he said.
Basner, who turns 24 on July 29, is younger than the two other umpires in his three-man Southern League crew, but not by too much. One is 26 and the other 25.
Basner and his partners parcel out duties away from the ballpark, including driving duties.
"I don't use my authority as crew chief," Basner said. "We share the driving."
Traveling around the 10-team Southern League in a van and staying at budget motels isn't glamorous. But Basner hopes that it will get him where he wants to go.
Umpires who make the majors earn salaries from $90,000 to $350,000 and have longer careers than big league players.
It is getting to the majors that is the hard part.
Paul Nauert, who lives in Lawrenceville after growing up in Louisville, Ky., spent 11 years in the minors before he got his first shot in 1999.
"Umpiring is something you have to love, but I do," Basner said.
The next step for Basner, who umpired the Southern League All-Star Game last year, is a possible trip to the Arizona Fall League, then a chance to work some major league spring training games. Umpires in Class AAA are frequently called up to the majors as vacation fill-ins during the season before getting their full-time shot.
If Basner makes the majors in a few years, he can say that he's already worked at old Yankee Stadium.
"I know that there is a lot of history there," he said. "But any major league stadium would be impressive for me."
Outside of Atlanta, Basner has never been to a big league ballpark.
If he realizes his dream, however, he'll be in a lot of them in the future.
What: All-Star event matching the top prospects in the minors
When: Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
Where: Yankee Stadium
Format: United States against the World
Braves connection: Myrtle Beach outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, from Venezuela, will play for the World
SideBar: THE BASNER FILE
Name: Toby Basner
Age: Turns 24 on July 29
Position: Umpire crew chief in the Class AA Southern League, two rungs below the majors
High school: Brookwood, graduating in 2003
Years in pro baseball: 5
Past leagues: rookie Gulf Coast League in 2004, rookie Appalachian League in 2005, Class A South Atlantic and Carolina leagues in 2006, Southern League in 2007
Winter experience: umpired in the Dominican Republic two years ago and Venezuela last winter
Family: Father, Allan; mother, Rhonda; brothers, Reed and Cory
Hobbies: Golf, working out and playing guitar