Parks is a big, gentle man who, despite his resentment, has a passive demeanor. He has never ridden in a car with the other members of his crew or sat with them at a dinner table. On the one occasion he found himself on the same plane, the veterans did not acknowledge his existence. After a game he always showers last and stays away from the buffet in the umpires' room until the others have finished serving themselves. "He's very quiet, very humble," says crew chief Phillips. "That has helped his situation."
Parks is also very smart, because he knows how the hiring game is played. "This profession is the most competitive in sports," he says. "There's so many trying to become so few. It's a long road, a rocky road, a lucky road and an——kissing road. There's a lot of older umpires who have gotten here by a lot more unethical ways than we have. Ours is the black-sheep way. Two months ago I would have said I wished I hadn't done it. But now, yes, I'd do it again. After a while, you can get acclimated to anything. For me, that's a tough thing to say because I've always wanted people to like me. But now I know a human being can get used to about anything."
That is not Shulock's opinion, however. "I wouldn't do it again," he says, "and if the situation should ever arise for another minor league umpire, I would say, 'Stay right where you are.' "
Better relations between the umps will come only as the outcasts prove themselves on the field. Cullen says the National League rookies are not the four worst umps in his league. "They're even getting some grudging respect from the other umpires," he says. "That has helped the situation some, but a few of the older ones won't even let me discuss it with them. They just turn away."
As a last resort, Cullen says he may put the four new umps into a single crew next season. But he is reluctant to do this because he feels that would remove any hope of reconciliation. There is some question, however, as to whether reconciliation can occur. Too many umpires share the feelings of American Leaguer Mike Reilly, who says, "Things are never going to get better with me."
The rookie umps do have sympathy from at least one veteran umpire. Bill Deegan. During the 1970 playoffs, when the umps staged a one-day walkout, Deegan crossed the picket line. He stayed on the following year as a regular American Leaguer. "I can relate to what these kids are going through," he says. "I'm still not accepted by a few of the hard-nosed guys. I've proven myself to be a good umpire and they still reject me."
After all, once an umpire makes up his mind, he is not about to change it. In this instance, however, the more obstinate veterans are hurting the game they are paid to uphold.