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As They See ‘Em: A Fan’s Travels in the Land of Umpires

This article is more than 10 years old.
as-they-see-emIf you’ve ever thought you might be happier had you chosen to become a Major League umpire, read Bruce Weber’s As They See ‘Em: A Fan’s Travels in the Land of Umpires. You’ll emerge from the experience more content with your current job.

Weber talked with umpires in training, working umpires, and umpires in retirement. He went through umpire school himself, and even called balls and strikes for three innings in a 2007 spring training game between members of the San Francisco Giants. He learned to respect and admire many of the umpires he met for their integrity and patience…it takes about three months less than forever to get from the low minors to the Major Leagues, where umpires can finally earn a living wage. He also learned that as a group, umpires inhabit a world in which “playing the national anthem is serious business, women are discomforting, Jews are a novelty, homosexuals are unwanted, and liberals tend to keep their opinions to themselves.” Ria Cortesio, the one minor league female umpire Weber meets, contends that “hands down, the biggest rats I’ve ever encountered in my life are professional umpires.” Weber concedes that she has reason to feel that way.

On the positive side, Weber’s experience behind the plate in that spring training game provided him with an epiphany of sorts. In the vacuum that followed his call of third strike on a pitch the batter had taken, the pitcher, the catcher, and even the batter himself recognized that Weber had been right. “Unanimity around the plate is a glorious thing,” crows the ump. It is a fine and gratifying moment, but it is not enough to convince the author that he chose the wrong career.

This program aired on March 26, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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