Mr. Carlson was a graduate of Joliet West High in Joliet, Illinois, where he was a baseball standout. He enrolled at Parkland in the fall of 1987 and played baseball with the Cobras for two years. After leaving Parkland, Mark enrolled in the Joe Brinkman and Bruce Froemming’s Umpire School.
Usually there are about 450 students enrolled in the three largest umpiring schools in the country. There are 68 umpires in major league baseball. The odds are long, but that didn’t stop Mark. He quickly went to the top in his class and consequently, he was selected to attend the Umpire Development Program. An honor considering he was the only one chosen to attend out of 45 students from three umpiring schools.
Mr. Carlson finished the Umpire Development Program sixth in his class and that guaranteed him a job in the minor leagues. For six years Mr. Carlson worked for the Pioneer League, the Midwest League, the Florida State League, the Southern League, and finally the International League, when he got his first break. And that was to fill in for a Cubs-White Sox series at Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois. “I lucked out there. I couldn’t imagine any better way to start. You can’t beat that.” After that, he got the call informing him that he had been made a full-time major league umpire.
As a Major League Baseball umpire in his 17th season, Mark was named the Chicago Hit & Pitch Club’s Umpire of the Year in 2003; and he has umpired the Division series in 2005, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2015; League Championship Series in 2013 and 2014; and his first Major League Baseball World Series in 2015.
In 2004 Mr. Carlson established Mark Carlson’s Care. It is a non-profit organization designed to help children in need. Mark and his wife Marie have two daughters.
Mark’s most memorable Parkland moment is “being selected into the Parkland College Athletic Hall of Fame. It was such an honor to receive the recognition from the school. I will always remember that day. I would also like to say that when I first came to Parkland and toured the school, I knew it would be a perfect fit for me. Parkland allowed me to take on many responsibilities and give me the skills that would develop me into a confident, self-sufficient young man. I believe because of those experience, it allowed me to learn valuable life lessons that I still use today.”