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Be honest—what do you think of when you think of an umpire? An argument, right? A ballplayer and an umpire standing nose to nose yelling at each other with the crowd booing—and if you think the one they're booing is the player, then you haven't been to a ball game lately. In baseball the umpire is always the villain.
I'd like to know where that got started. I know booing is Part of the Game and The American Way and all that. But why is it? Who started it? Who was the first guy who booed the umpire and called him a blind bat and yelled, "Kill the ump!" I wish I could find him. I'd tell him a few things.
Maybe a lot of it is in good humor, but you ought to see some of the people who wait for an umpire after a game just to abuse him. You ought to hear the nice things they say—foul names, insults, things about your family. Some players and managers are pretty good with that stuff, too. I know one thing—you never hear a compliment, though baseball without umpires is nothing. They couldn't play the game without us.
Umpires are abused, insulted, underpaid and overtraveled, yet they expect an umpire to have a perfect temperament at all times. If some lug starts spouting filthy insults and an umpire gets a little hot under the collar, oh, isn't that terrible. He's lost control of the game, they say. He doesn't have the right attitude. Listen, if they can find a fellow who can swallow all that stuff, then they don't have an umpire. When you're out on the field umpiring, you're dealing with professionals you know and admire. I respected the ground that a ballplayer walked on, and I respected the player himself. I never cursed a ballplayer in all the years I was an umpire. I had no right to and no reason to. Well, I had reason to, but I had no right to. And they had no right to curse me or call me any of those names. I know all those names, and I'm none of them. I respected the players, but in turn I demanded respect from them. And I got it. The ballplayer has to respect the umpire. You can't take abuse from a player, because that is when you lose control of the game.
They say a squabble with the umpire lends color to baseball. All right, I agree. I don't object to an argument. In fact, I kind of like one occasionally. I like a ballplayer who fights for his rights. It shows that he takes the game seriously, that it means a lot to him. But that doesn't have anything to do with him calling me a foul name. It doesn't have anything to do with the phony arguments and rotten abuse you get from some of these so-called colorful characters. Like Leo Durocher.
Durocher? You can have him. I umpired in the minor leagues for five seasons and in the National League for 25, and I never saw anyone else like him. He is the king of the complainers, the troublemakers, the malcontents, the ones who can never, never, never accept a tough decision that goes against them.
There aren't very many of them, thank the Lord. I don't mean the fellows who get in an occasional argument and get thrown out of a game once in a while. That happens. That's part of baseball. I mean the ones who are always bickering, always making trouble, who seem to go out of their way to stir things up, the ones who play to the crowd to get the fans down on the umpire. There are only one or two on a team at the most, but they can make an umpire's life hell.
Durocher was the worst in my experience. He's two-faced. He jumps you one minute, and the next minute he comes up oozing charm, calling you a great umpire. He doesn't fool me. I've known him too long. Great umpire! He never bothered to call me a great umpire when I made a good call against his team. You'd get nothing but trouble then.
I remember back in the early '40s when he was managing the Brooklyn Dodgers and he swore at me and kicked dirt on me at home plate because of a decision I made, and it was the right decision.
The Dodgers and Chicago Cubs were tied 1-1 with the Dodgers batting in the bottom of the sixth inning. Bobby Bragan walked and Goody Rosen was hit by a pitch. With two out, Frenchy Bordagaray hit a long single to center.