Saturday, April 23, 2011

History: The New UEFL Banner

One of the UEFL followers recently commented on our new look:

Here's what I want to know...

There MUST be some significance to the UEFL banner on top of the page. No one just randomly puts in pics of Fred Brocklander and Dave Pallone...two guys who worked during the MLB strike way back in the day. And the clocks? I am racking my brain trying the figure what the time on each clock could stand for.

Those are great pics of Kaiser, Reilly and JJ...but Brocklander? Fred Freakin' Brocklander? At least Pallone, IMHO, proved he belonged and overcame two stigmas (scab and gay) to be in the bigs.

Of course, the bigger issue may be that I can even recognize a photo of Brocklander. Must. Get. A. Life.

To this, we say: Excellent observations. Indeed, the umpires who appear in the banner run the gamut of professional umpiring history. Here is a brief overview of the elements of the UEFL Banner at the top of the page.

Left Clock, Right Clock: The clock images come from atop the famous Wrigley Field scoreboard. Built in 1914 as Weegman park, Wrigley best represents all of Major League's ballparks. As the second oldest stadium in MLB (behind Fenway), Wrigley is full of baseball history. Featuring a hand turned scoreboard, an iconic main entry marquee, a stadium so dedicated to the tradition of the day game (only having installed lights in 1988), and its setting in the middle of the surrounding Lakeview neighborhood, The Friendly Confines is a clear choice for inclusion in our banner dedicated to professional umpiring history. The clocks themselves represent a progression of time.

Nicholas Young: Positioned next to the 3:55pm clock (perhaps a day game?) is baseball executive Nicholas Young. Truly representative of the turn of the century umpire (that would be the 1900 turn of the century), Young served in the Union Army during the Civil War. Like most umpires during the 1870s, Young was a right fielder by trade and was instrumental in forming the National Association of Professional Baseball Players, the first professional baseball league in the United States of America. Young managed the Washington team from 1871-1873 and also umpired in the league. Young served as secretary and treasurer of the newly formed National League, before becoming NL President from 1885-1902. He left the League later that year to return to his first job, with the US Treasury Department. He is not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

John Joseph "Rip" Egan: Next to young is Rip Egan, who was also a player by trade. From 1894-1900, Egan pitched professionally with the minor league Providence Clamdiggers, Omaha Omahogs, Detroit Tigers (a minor league team at the time), Kansas City Blues, and Cleveland Lake Shores, and the major league Washington Senators (he lasted one day in the bigs, giving up five runs in five innings, posting an ERA of 10.80... he didn't get the loss and finished with a 0-0 record). Egan began his American League umpiring career in 1907, which would last through the 1914 season. During his time as a professional umpire, Egan umpired two no-hitters (Frank Smith, Joe Benz) and umpired the 1913 World Series. Proving that baseball truly is a timeless sport, Egan, just like the umpires of today, was criticized by the press because of a close call he made during a Naps-Cardinals contest in 1908. Regardless, Egan was "highly regarded" as an umpire. He is not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

DISPUTED: Charles Moran: There is some controversy regarding the man next to Egan. First up is "Uncle Charley" Moran, a collegiate football player, professional baseball player, collegiate and professional football coach, collegiate baseball coach, and professional baseball umpire. After playing college football at the University of Tennessee and Bethel College, Moran was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. He lasted slightly longer than Egan, a grand total of three games in 1903, during which he posted an ERA of 5.25 in 24 innings of work, with a record of 0-1, and an offensive batting average of .429 (perhaps he should have been a position player). He then returned to the Cardinals in 1908, as a catcher (listened to my advice), playing in 21 games and batting just .175 on the last place Cardinals team. He bounced around several minor league teams after 1908, while moonlighting as a college football coach from 1909-1933. He was an NFL coach (Frankford Yellow Jackets) in 1927. While continuing to coach football and play minor league baseball, he picked up a baseball coaching job at Texas A&M, which he held from 1909-1914. In 1918, Moran became a National League umpire, beginning a career highlighted by four World Series (1927, 1929, 1933 -crew chief, 1938 -crew chief), and a 1929 Carl Hubbell no-hitter. He retired in 1939. He is not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but he is in the Texas A&M Athletic Hall of Fame.

DISPUTED: Tom Connolly: There is some controversy that the man next to Egan is actually Tom Connolly. Connolly officiated in the National League from 1898-1900, before joining the American League in 1901. During his umpiring and umpire supervising career, he established strict umpiring standards, solidifying the integrity associated with umpiring. Originally a cricket player (English, you see), Connolly quickly made the transition to baseball upon arriving in the United States of America in 1885. He became a rules expert (perhaps the ultimate inspiration for the UEFL's concept of rules knowledge) and began umpiring in the early 1890s. He switched from the NL to the AL in 1900, having resigned from the NL because the league's president (the aforementioned Nicholas Young) was reluctant to back up umpires' on field decisions, when pressured by owners. After being assured by AL president Ban Johnson that umpires' judgement was final, Connolly umpired the first American League game ever played on April 24, 1901 and would later umpire the first AL games ever played at Comiskey Park, Shibe Park, Fenway Park, and (the old) Yankee Stadium. The first ever winner of the UEFL (if there had been one back in 1901), Connolly led the AL with 10 ejections during its first season of existence. He ultimately earned great respect and restraint, once going 10 full seasons without an ejection. Connolly worked the first ever World Series in 1903, the only AL member of that crew. When he retired from field-work in 1931 to become the first ever AL umpire supervisor, a post he held until 1954, Connolly had worked a (then-) record 8 World Series (1903, 1908, 1910, 1911, 1913, 1916, 1920, 1924) and four no-hitters. On May 4, 1928, he participated in what has become known as the ultimate real-life Hall of Fame All-Star Game: During the New York Yankees-Philadelphia Athletics game that day, 17 future hall of famers took the field as players, managers, and umpires (Bill McGowan was the other HOF umpire who worked that contest). Connolly is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, one of the first two umpires ever elected. Connolly and NL Umpire Bill Klem both were inducted in 1953.

Bruce Froemming: Next to Moran is Bruce Froemming, the longest tenured umpire in major league history, having umpired 37 full seasons upon his retirement after the 2007 season. Froemming umpired his first National League games in 1971, and in 2007, surpassed Bill Klem (who is in the Hall of Fame) for most seasons umpired. Only Froemming and Klem have umpired 5,000 games as of this post. Froemming also broke Klem's age record for oldest umpire to work a game; Froemming was 68 years and 2 days old on September 30, 2007, his final big league contest. Like the early umpires, Froemming too started out as a baseball player, but decided on umpiring early on in his adult life. He quickly rose to the rank of crew chief in 1988, and when all was said and done, Froemming had worked 5 World Series (1976, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1995), 10 National League Championship Series (1973, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1997, 2000), 9 Division Series (1981, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007), and 3 All-Star Games (1975, 1986, 2007). He holds records for most NLCS worked (10, tied with Jerry Crawford), most DS worked (9), and most total postseason games worked (111; Klem = 103, Crawford = 108). He also worked a record 11 no-hitters, including one thrown by Cubs pitcher Milt Pappas in 1972, who had his perfect game ended when with two outs and a 3-2 count in the 9th inning, he walked pinch-hitter Larry Stahl on a close (but inside) pitch. Froemming has been the subject of controversy for this and similar on-the-field reasons, as well as several off-the-field incidents; he was suspended for offensive comments in 2003 (10-days, no pay), and was fined in 1996 for going into the Dodgers' clubhouse before a game in New York... he had wanted Dodgers catcher Mike Piazza's autograph. Froemming retired in 2007 and is not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, though he gained election eligibility in 2010.

Fred Brocklander: Next to Froemming is Fred Brocklander, an NL Umpire from 1979-1992. He, too, started out as a player, joining the Kansas City Athletics organization as a minor leaguer in 1962. He also was a serious multi-sport official, and officiated amateur soccer as well as Division I College Basketball. After working in minor league baseball for 10 years, many major league umpires decided to strike in 1979 as part of an ill-conceived collective bargaining technique (sound familiar? It happened again - to a more extreme extent - 20 years later). Brocklander was one of those who then gained a National League spot as a result of the 1979 strike. He umpired the 1984 All-Star Game and the 1986 NLCS, where he was met with Houston-area controversy after ruling Astros batter-runner Craig Reynolds out at first base in the second inning. Fran Blinebury of the Houston Chronicles "eternally linked" Brocklander and Umpire Don Denkinger in Blinebury's very own Hall of Shame. Denkinger, of course, had clearly missed a call during the 9th inning in Game 6 1985 World Series. Brocklander was the NL Umpire who gave us the quote, umpiring is "one of the few professions in the world where you’re supposed to be perfect and get better." Having retired for health reasons in 1992, Brocklander returned to umpiring in 1998, opting for high school softball. Like Egan, Brocklander was described by former player Mark Grace as a "highly regarded major league umpire of twelve years." He is not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Dave Pallone: Next to Brocklander is Dave Pallone. Like Brocklander, he too was hired by the NL in 1979 following the strike of that year. During his career, he umpired the 1983 All-Star Game and 1987 NLCS. He umpired one no-hitter (Mike Scott, 1986) and presided over Nolan Ryan's 4,000th career strikeout in 1985. Pallone, like many both before and after him, was involved in controversy when in 1988, he called Mets batter-runner Mookie Wilson safe on a close play. When Reds Manager Pete Rose came out to argue (click here for a YouTube video of this confrontation... what's your Quality of Correctness here?), gesturing between the two led to Rose shoving Pallone, fans littering the field with garbage (not that fans throwing things is unusual...), and ultimately the decision to be made that Pallone would be taken out of the ball game to ease tensions. Controversial (theme, huh?) Reds owner Marge Schott was referenced on the stadium's jumbo-tron, the message reading, "Please do not throw objects onto the field, or the game may be forfeited. Please 'cool it'. Thanks, Marge." Pallone would resign later that season, and later wrote a tell-all book, Behind the Mask, about his experiences as a gay man working as a professional baseball umpire. He is not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Joe West (22): Next to Pallone (more accurately, over his left shoulder) is Joe West. Unlike Pallone and Brocklander, he was hired by the National League in 1976 and was not displaced by the 1979 strike. He would, however, lose his job in 1999, before being hired back by MLB in 2002. Crew chief "Cowboy Joe" was a starting quarterback at Elon College, winning the MVP award in 1973. A singer/songwriter as well as an umpire, West also designed and marketed the "West Vest" chest protector, marketed by Wilson Sporting Goods. He also made one film appearance, playing the Third Base Umpire during a Mariners-Angels game (at Dodger Stadium... featuring a pre-game shot of Wrigley Field) in 1988's The Naked Gun (wonder why Joe West is wearing an AL hat in the UEFL banner?). As of the beginning of the 2011 season, West has umpired 4 World Series (1992, 1997, 2005, 2009), 7 LCS (1981, 1986, 1988, 1993, 1996, 2003, 2004), and 4 DS (1995, 2002, 2005, 2009). Like many other umpires before and after him, West has been criticized by multiple outlets (White Sox?), and indeed fueled controversy himself in 2010 when he remarked that the Yankees and Red Sox play too slowly, that their pace of game relative to the Commissioner's edict on faster games is "pathetic and embarrassing." He was voted the 2nd worst umpire in Major League Baseball after the 2009 season. West was elected President of the World Umpires Association prior to the 2010 season. He has worked over 4,000 games. West is not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and is currently part of the 2011 MLB staff, but he is in the Elon Sports Hall of Fame.

Ken Kaiser: Next to West is AL Umpire Ken Kaiser, who worked in the league from 1977-1999. Like many others, Kaiser was an athlete before he was an arbiter, but unlike some other umpires, he was a professional wrestler known as "The Hatchet Man." Like West, he also lost his job in 1999, but unlike West, was not hired back by MLB afterwards. Kaiser worked the 1991 All-Star Game, 2 World Series (1987, 1997), 4 ALCS (1980, 1988, 1993, 1995), and 3 ALDS (1981, 1996, 1997). Like several other umpires during his era, Kaiser was criticized for his weight (he was listed at 288 pounds, though some suspect he broke the 300 pound mark). After NL Umpire John McSherry suffered a fatal opening day, on-field heart attack in 1996, Kaiser reduced his listed weight to 270 by 1999. Unlike Egan and Brocklander, Kaiser was not "highly regarded." Instead, former pitcher Tom Candiotti claimed Kaiser "wouldn't move three steps to call a play"; fellow umpire Durwood Merrill noted Kaiser "marched to the beat of his own drummer." AL players voted him "worst umpire in the AL" in 1999. Like Pallone, Kaiser penned an autobiography, 2003's Planet of the Umps: A Baseball Life From Behind the Plate. Kaiser is not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Mike Reilly: Next to Kaiser is former AL/MLB Umpire Mike Reilly. Reilly took to umpiring after a college class on the subject of sports officiating, and worked his way up to the American League in 1977, where he would remain until the leagues merged in 1999. He worked for MLB from 2000-2010 and was not affected by the 1999 bargaining fiasco. Reilly worked 4 All-Star Games (1982, 1993, 2000, 2010), 4 World Series (1984, 1992, 2002, 2007), 9 LCS (1983, 1987, 1991, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2008), and 6 DS (1981, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2007). Though he too missed an important call in Game 2 of the 1992 World Series, and was even featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated after the missed call, Reilly managed to avoid the controversy that has met other umpires after particularly large missed calls (Brocklander, Pallone). Reilly was the UEFL's Umpire of the Year in 2010. He is not the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but he is in the St. Philip Catholic Central Hall of Fame.

Jim Joyce (66): Next to Reilly is Jim Joyce. Like Joe West, he is also a 2011 MLB Umpire. He played baseball at Bowling Green State University in the 1970s, and ultimately joined the AL staff in 1987, where he remained until 1999, and like Reilly, was retained by MLB in 2000. Joyce has worked two All-Star Games (1994, 2001), 2 World Series (1999, 2001), 3 LCS (1997, 2004, 2006, 2007), and 6 DS (1995, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2008, 2009). Like many other umpires, he missed a high profile call on June 2, 2010, during the Indians-Tigers contest. Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga had not allowed a baserunner and was working on a perfect game with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. Indians batter Jason Donald then softly hit a grounder to Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who threw to Galarraga covering first base, as Donald ran by. 1B Umpire Joyce ruled Donald safe, resulting in the first Indians hit. Though Galarraga still earned the complete game shutout, Joyce and his crew were met by an angry Tigers team as they left the field (see Unofficial Ejections: Derryl Cousins (1, 2)). Upon reviewing the play in the umpire's dressing room post-game, Joyce tearfully admitted "it was the biggest call of my career and I [blew] it," , and visited Galarraga to apologize for taking "a perfect game away from that kid over there who worked his # off all night." The incident resulted in tremendous praise for Galarraga, Tigers Manager Jim Leyland, and Joyce, for displaying incredible sportsmanship in the aftermath of the play. Less than two weeks later, Joyce was voted as the best umpire in Major League Baseball, 19% ahead of second-place Tim McClelland. Joyce was the UEFL's Umpire of the Year in 2009. He is not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and is currently part of the 2011 MLB staff, but he is in the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame.


dannj316 said...

I love the new banner. Although, I would have included Doug Harvey, one of the few MLB umpires to be elected to the Hall of Fame, over a relatively obscure umpire like Fred Brocklander.

A minor thing that I noticed is you short changed Jim Joyce's post-season credentials a bit. He also worked an LCS in 2007, and the DS in 2008 and 2009.

But overall, the banner is a nice touch.

Anonymous said... is a great example of umpiring history. It is ironic that Bruce's pic is up there with Brocklander and Pallone; by all accounts, Bruce was the most vehement pro-union, anti-scab umpire during the '79 strike, and went out of his way to make life a living hell for "scabs"...Pallone writes about it in his book at length. Can anyone name the current MLB umpire who also got his job during the '79 strike? (Answer at the end of this post).

Rose's argument with Pallone was NOT that he got the call wrong, but that he waited too long to make the call, denying Esasky the opportunity to throw home in time to get Howard Johnson of the Mets at the plate. When the finger pointing started, Rose claimed the Pallone's finger hit him near his eye, and he shoved him in return. If we "allow' him that one, how does Pete explain the second shove when Pallone was walking away with his back turned? I have always thought Pallone was a decent enough umpire who let his personal life be his headlines and legacy...his work in the '86 NL Championship Series was very good, especially his plate job, when he correctly nailed Vince Coleman for a running lane violation. He had multiple close calls in that series, at pivotal game moments, and got them right.

Current MLB Umpire still working from the '79 strike? Crew Chief Derryl Cousins.

Anonymous said...

I like the banner, but there is one glaring omission: Emmett Ashford, the first minority umpire.

Anonymous said...

"(wonder why Joe West is wearing an AL hat in the UEFL banner?). "

I kinda thought it was Joe, but the hat threw me off...In the context of Brocklander and Pallone, I then though it was Don Denkinger in profile because of the hat.

Anonymous said...

They did not make a "mutual" decision for Pallone to leave field. He did that on his own. Crew chief John Kibler (who they wore JK patches all last year) was furious.

Gil "CASD" said...

RE: Joyce, credentials fixed. I thought about including the likes of Klem, Harvey, Ashford (heck, you can't have an MLB player banner without Jackie Robinson and the only # retired throughout MLB, 42), and other "high profiles," but with the exception of Reilly and Joyce, who were included because they were UEFL Umpires of the Year, the included umpires are generally random. I quite literally took a look at MLB's all time roster, generated a few random numbers, and counted down the list. The only criteria were I needed umpires from different time periods in MLB history, and in regards to the first ump (Nicholas Young), I wanted a person who played an integral part in the forming or operation of a major league (fortunately, I landed on Young right away).

The random choice method is not meant to symbolize a lackadaisical approach to the subject; instead, the symbolization here is that umpires can be anyone - from the uninspired to the extraordinary. As much as we could pick Klem, Conlan, McGowan, or Harvey, the fact of the matter is, in the UEFL, we can't choose where our next ejection will come from, and we can't choose who will get the call right or wrong. Undoubtedly, every guy is trying their darned hardest to get it right, and they usually do (67% avg QoC on ejections... 94%+ at all other times), but every umpire gets it wrong at some point. Reputation and significant calls are things I tried to include in the bios above.

Even though Pallone's 1B call may have been right, there's always something else to argue about - timing, mechanics, enthusiasm (CB Bucknor once got into several confrontations with the visiting Red Sox in New York over his "overenthusiastic/emotional calls"... the game ended with more dramatic gestures, but no further arguments), appearance, etc.

I might have taken Hawk Harrelson's "he's a joke" comment a little too far, so I decided to play a little joke of my own by taking a screenshot from The Naked Gun with Joe in the wrong uniform.

As for Moran/Connolly, my randomly chosen method gave me Moran, which is where that picture popped up. But the pic was somehow also identified as Connolly. It was the best I could find of Moran, so I used it and did a write up for both guys, just in case. If I had found a suitable and confirmed picture of Moran, there would be no MLB Hall of Famer in this entry. The number of umpires in the Hall of Fame relative to the all time roster is very small, so it makes sense that no Hall of Famers would be chosen in a random numbers selection process.

Instead, we got two umpires who got their jobs during the strike of '79, two who lost their jobs in the resignation of '99, one of which was hired back; we have a few former pro or semi-pro players (mostly in the 1900s group), plenty of post-season experience, and a few record-setters and -breakers. We've got pro-owner and anti-owner. Pro- and anti-union. All in all, a varied bunch, but I agree, I would have liked to see a few HOFers and 'firsts' like Ashford.

Manny said...

@ Anonymous re: Pallone's leaving the field. Where out of "and ultimately the decision to be made that Pallone would be taken out of the ball game to ease tensions" did you get "mutual decision"? We all know only the individual umpire has the power to remove himself from a game. We know Pallone decided to go.

Jack said...

Interesting history lesson here. Also interesting the progression from coat & tie all the way to polo.

jeruhmed said...

Cascreamindude did a great job on the banner and writeup. Like he said, we never know what the next ejection will be, whether or not the call will be correct. The great thing about sports officials is the fact that they do come from all walks, some are much more visible like Joe West (no pun intended...) than others. I think we get a wide range of umpires here, which makes it great.

I think we could all come up with a bunch of guys we wish to see. In terms of more recent or present day guys I would like to see John McSherry for obviously one of the most shocking incidents to ever happen to an umpire or Tim McClelland for the fact he has umpired very amazing incidents in baseball history, such as David Wells' perfect game. Also the fact he amazingly umpired both George Brett's (and later his 3000th hit game) and Sammy Sosa's pine tar and corked (respectively) bat incidents.

@Jack I did not even thing about that, but nice pick up. The way the equipment and umpiring attire has progressed overtime is worthy of a history lesson in itself.

jeruhmed said...

Here is a picture of Moran, likely from his playing days?

This is the profile picture provided on

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