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NOBODY LOVES THE RULING CLASS
Frank Deford
October 11, 1976
Whether they're called umpires, referees or judges, those who must decide if it was fair, foul, in, out, over or short are, officially speaking, unappreciated
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October 11, 1976

Nobody Loves The Ruling Class

Whether they're called umpires, referees or judges, those who must decide if it was fair, foul, in, out, over or short are, officially speaking, unappreciated

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Calls 288 balls and strikes
Calls 64 players safe or out (all bases)
Calls 56 players safe or out (first base)
Gets hit by hit or pitched ball once
Spends $125.10 on personal equipment...

And he is not permitted to make one mistake.

An infielder must play 32 games of errorless fielding to have as many opportunities as an umpire in one game of calling balls and strikes.

A batter must hit safely every time he is at bat in 18? games to be as good as the umpire is expected to be in his calls at first base in one game."

BONES

A few recollections about referees from Bones McKinney, the former Wake Forest coach, who first wore a seat belt on the bench:

"The first time I wore that belt I stayed there for 11 minutes and some seconds. Then my assistant leaned over to me and said, 'Fox [the ref] needs some chewing out.' He hadn't done anything wrong, we just needed a big foul. So I did it, and we got the next shot.

"Once, against Princeton, I scuffed my shoe on the floor, and it flew off and landed at midcourt. And I had to go get it. Princeton is coming on a fast break. And as I got my shoe, my pencil fell out of my pocket. Finally, when I got back to the bench, the referee called a technical. I asked him what for and he told me, and I told him a few words, and he said, I thought you were a preacher.' And so I said, 'Hell, I thought you were a referee, too.' That was two techs.

"Against Kentucky one night we were one point down at halftime, but The Baron [ Coach Adolph Rupp of Kentucky] didn't even go with his team to the locker room. He stayed with the officials. We got blown out the second half, and those referees didn't know who we were. When it was over, I started calling the officials Dr. This and Dr. That, and finally the referee says to me, 'Why are you calling me a doctor, Coach? I'm not a doctor.' And I said, 'Well, you certainly did a surgical job on us tonight.'

"What I always wanted was a kid named Homer Smith or Homer Jones. I didn't want him to be a very good player. I just wanted to put him in at the end of the games on the road so I could yell 'Homer! Homer!' at the top of my lungs and the referees couldn't do anything about it."

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