Brookwood grad umpiring G-Braves games this week

LAWRENCEVILLE — For the first time as a professional umpire, Toby Basner isn't away from home.

"It's just 30 minutes to the ballpark from my house," the Snellville resident and Brookwood graduate said. "That's definitely nice."

Basner was behind the plate for Chris Tillman's no-hitter against the Gwinnett Braves for Norfolk on Wednesday night and will be at Coolray Field for the entire eight-day homestand.

That's a rare treat for a minor league umpire, who is usually away from home for the entire season.

Basner, 25, bought his own place in Snellville a year ago, but he has rarely been in it. He worked the Arizona Fall League after finishing last season in the Pacific Coast League and called major league spring training games in Florida this year.

This is Basner's first full season in Class AAA, just a step below the majors. Being in the International League rather than the PCL is an extra plus because of its location.

Basner's three-man crew, which also includes fellow Georgian Jason Bradley, is scheduled to make one more trip to Gwinnett for a series against Charlotte in July. The games immediately precede the three-day All-Star break, which couldn't work out better for Basner and Bradley, who lives in Blackshear.

Umpires face even longer odds of reaching the majors than players. But Basner got an early start and has steadily climbed the ladder. Being picked for the Arizona Fall League was a sign of recognition, as was working the All-Star Futures Game at Yankee Stadium in 2008 when he was in the Class AA Southern League.

When Basner calls Gwinnett games, it creates an interesting situation home or away. The G-Braves, of course, feature Parkview graduates Clint Sammons and Tim Gustafson. Basner went to rival Brookwood at about the same time.

"I played against both of them," Basner said.

Now he's calling their games. But all three have the same goal — making the majors and staying there.