The fans were screaming. The visiting manager came running out of the dugout, yelling at the poor ump that Connors should be thrown out of the game. "By now, his eyes are going blank," Connors says. "He hears what I'm saying, but he also knows what the fans and the other players must be thinking. I just kept pouring it on. 'Don't listen to Johnson. Don't listen to Hodges. You call 'em good. You're the best bleeping umpire in this league. You and I are the only ones around here who know the score.'
"He just stood there," Connors says. "He knew he had been had."
Major league umpires' salaries begin at $16,000 and rise to $40,000. They get $49 a day for hotels, taxis and meals. They work 162 games in 180 days.
Richie Powers has written in his book Overtime!, "In those days I was a better umpire than basketball referee, and by 1961 I had progressed from Class D to the Triple A International League.... In the spring of 1962 I happened to meet two National League umpires, Al Barlick and Ed Vargo...and I asked if they had heard anything about Richie Powers the umpire—off the record, of course. They told me they had heard some talk that Richie Powers was too small to umpire in the major leagues. I wasn't surprised, but I was mad as hell.... It took me a few months to check out the official reports on Richie Powers the umpire. When I found out what Barlick and Vargo had told me...was indeed the opinion of the people who hired major league umpires, I promptly abandoned my umpiring career, midway through the 1962 season."
Jocko Conlan, in his book Jocko: "Tommy," I said, "why didn't you take me up to the American League?"
"I'm sorry, Jocko," Connolly [the supervisor of umpires] said. "The American League thinks you're just a bit too short for an umpire."
"When I think about Connolly and 'short' umpires, it makes me mad. Because the trend is towards big men.... I don't say the tall men aren't good umpires, but I do say the shorter umpire has an advantage on balls and strikes, particularly on the low pitch at the knees, the toughest call in baseball. The big guy has to bend. The short guy is down there...he has the better perspective."
Cheating is apparently widely accepted on the NASCAR circuit. At Daytona several years ago, a stock-car driver named Smokey Yunick brought his vehicle in for inspection. The officials, working diligently that day, even removed Smokey's gas tank in order to measure its capacity, which was limited to 22 gallons. About this time, Smokey started disputing 11 other violations that the inspectors claimed they had already discovered. They would not give in, so Smokey hopped back in his car, slammed the door and squealed out, pointing back over his shoulder at the gas tank, which still lay on the garage floor. "Make it 12," said Smokey.
NFL referee teams always work together as a unit, as do the four-man major league baseball umpiring squads. But NBA referees are switched and work with different colleagues from game to game. "There are too many pitfalls to a pairing system," Mendy Rudolph says. "If you do have bad habits, you never break yourself of them because you're working with the same guy all the time. Also, there's a personality conflict. You got to remember that referees do not spend, as ballplayers do, 41 games at home. They're working 82 games out on the road. So with the 82 plus the traveling, you may be on the road maybe 130 days with the same guy. And unless you really get along with each other you're going to have a lot of friction out there."