Baseball Umpires’ Learning Blog

Our Place to Share the Game

A Rare Umpire “Feel Good” Article

Our fellow BULB (Baseball Umpire Learning Blog) blogger Steve Johnson regularly unveils and unearths baseball bits that continue to entertain, educate, and inspire many from all walks of life. Today Steve is sharing the article by Fay Vincent, former MLB commissioner, who speaks kindly not only about one special umpire, Bruce Froemming, but also about arbiters in general. Thank you Mr. Vincent for remembering the true resting place for the integrity of the world’s competitive sporting events.

At this same time, I must share a fairly recent experience with Bruce Froemming. Former Double A Texas League partner Mike Winters has been a regular member of Mr. Froemming’s crew since Mike arrived in the majors. I took my son Ryan to Fenway Park and wanted to get a moment to say hello to Mike as we (along with other crew member Dan Wickham) thoroughly enjoyed the spring and summer of 1983 in the Texas League.

After simply requesting a moment to say hi to Mike Winters in the hallway, Ryan and I were escorted to umpire dressing room to visit with Mike and the crew. During a brief hello and some fun reminiscing with Mike, Mr. Froemming donated his full attention to Ryan (age 13) asking about Ryan about his baseball involvement. An autographed ball from the crew was given to Ryan. Ryan left that locker room with a whole new respect for major league umpires.

When I told Ryan that umpire great Al Barlick continuously told everyone who would listen that Bruce Froemming should be the one selected to work the plate if there would ever to be the most important game in baseball history. Just that comment and an older gentleman’s caring way, placed Bruce Froemming in Ryan’s Hall of Fame. Bruce Froemming’s signature is every bit as important to Ryan and I as that of Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax, Bob Feller, and others that reside on baseballs in our home.

Thanks Bruce for all that you have done. I especially respect that you continue to manage your games despite the new direction that MLB has taken failing to demand respect for umpires and the game. It shouldn’t about the superstars and owners; it should be about the integrity of the game. No one is bigger than the game, but in our hearts Bruce Froemming is pretty darn close! Enjoy your fame and retirement Bruce, you have surely earned it.

Check out Mr. Fay Vincent’s timely and much appreciated “Opinion” article in today’s (7/9/09) New York Times, by clicking on the following link:

The Umpire Strikes Back by Fay Vincent

Froemming Passes Bill Klem

Umpire Froemming Speaks After Breaking Klem Record

July 9, 2007 Posted by | Baseball Bits, Commendations, Commentary | 1 Comment

Naked Gun Umpire Dance

Now, here’s an old clip from the Naked Gun movie from many years ago. I first saw this sometime during my years in the Double A Texas League. Anyone who likes or hates umpires should enjoy this video. He lacks some basic mechanics skills, but he makes up for it in showmanship.

This video brings back some fond memories of my years (1984-86) working for Carl Sawatski, Texas League President for many years. I was called up from the Single A Midwest League in the summer of 1984 and flew into San Antonio to work the AA Dodgers. Sandy Koufax was in the Dodger dugout. We shared something special–a love for the great state of Maine and, of course, workng our trades in the minor leagues. In the Texas League we would somtimes have to drive 10 hours from Jackson, Mississippi to El Paso, Texas after a night game. Jackson is famous for its warm temperatures and extremely high humidity. El Paso was the most fun on 10 cent hot dog nights when hundreds of Mexican citizens would cross the bridge for the evening games. The El Paso Diablo general manager always wanted us to start the game late to give more time for people to get through the border crossing. I doubt it is possible to simply walk across the border any longer.

I do recall working the plate on a drizzly night in El Paso while Ozzy Osborne was singing “White Wedding” in the local armory just over the left field fence. A little more rain and I would have had an even more memorable night that summer. Funny what we remember from our years on the road. Enough reminiscing, check out the video. This umpire performance would have gone over great on “10 cent Hot Dog Night” in El Paso.

For those of you for whom I continue to challenge your technology skills, this may be another new step for you. Just click anywhere on the link below to have the video load and play for you. It doesn’t save the video to your computer or put you at any risk. Turn on your speakers and watch closely to find a few moves that you can add to your plate job repertoire. LOL

Naked Gun Umpire Dance–Google Video

July 7, 2007 Posted by | Baseball Bits, Commentary, Photo & Video | , | Leave a comment

Holiday Challenge–Multiple parts

Happy 4th! Unless you umpire professional baseball, you should have today off! I hope you get to spend time with family or do something special whether or not it includes baseball.

First of all check out the following picture. Does it make your mind spin envisioning all the things that must be processed by the base umpire? How well could he see the front edge of first base with the first baseman stretching toward home plate? What other evidence will an umpire use to help him make a close call like this one if he cannot see the leading edge of first base? Will there be contact? Who is at fault? Can you go to your partner, the plate umpire, for help on the potential interference/obstruction?

Stretch at First

Challenge #A

Now that I have you thinking, the challenge is for you to:

  1. write a script that would go with the video replay. You can write it from the umpires perspective or as a passionate baseball fan.
  2. describe the play at first base and share why an umpire must really be alert to the many possible decisions that can become part of this play.
  3. cover one or more of the rules that could come into consideration as this play unfolds.


Challenge #B

Write the script for either of the pictures below. Once again, I encourage you to be creative and have some fun with these. You know, I ought to find a sponsor to give out prizes for talent shared here. What an idea! Maybe the Taz man from down to Honig’s!?!

Play at Home Loose at 2nd Base

                                    “Play at Home”                                 “Ball in Dust”



July 4, 2007 Posted by | Baseball Bits, Commentary, Photo & Video, Rules, Sharing Game Situations | Leave a comment