Thursday, July 20, 2017

Umpire Appreciation Night Coming to MiLB Ballpark

Umpire Appreciation Night: Utopian officiating fantasy or 2017 reality? The Charleston RiverDogs Minor League Baseball team will bring the promotion to the ballpark on Saturday, July 22, complete with a limited edition umpire "bobble-wrist" figurine giveaway to the first 1,000 fans.

Presented by NASH FM and Fox24, Umpire Appreciation Night will take over the Class-A Yankees affiliate's Riley Park in Charleston, South Carolina during the RiverDogs' series opener against the Lakewood BlueClaws.

The bobblehead/wrist giveaway features a masked umpire brushing off home plate. Planned activities include a "Strike 3" call contest, Dress Like an Umpire race, baseball rules trivia event, and umpire autograph session.

Here's hoping the Dogs' promotion—which appears to be a legitimate salute to umpiring—plays better than the Lancaster JetHawks (California League)'s 2009 fake "Umpire Appreciation Night" promotion, when the home team planned to distribute 500 pairs of what the Hawks called "umpire glasses."

The Cal League now has a top ump award.
In reality, the official promotion that evening was "Optometry Appreciation Night," and the team put out a statement as a result of backlash for their attempt at an umpiring tie-in: "Upon further examination of our planned promotion for tonight, we realized the distasteful and offensive nature of the umpire appreciation night aspect of it. Our California League umpires exhibit a great work ethic and do an excellent job on a daily basis. Out of respect for these Minor League Baseball umpires, we will not distribute eyeglasses to the first 500 fans. The rest of the elements of Optometry Appreciation Night will proceed as planned."

The California League (also Single-A) is the only league in the minors to honor its umpires annually with its newly-named "Doug Harvey Award," given out every season since 2010.
Related PostDoug Harvey Set for CAL League Hall of Fame Induction (6/16/17).

Frank Walsh (R) is gifted silver on Ump Night.
Meanwhile, real-life umpire Frank Walsh—whom the NL released in 1963 after his 1961 debut due, perhaps, to an incident with Duke Snider in San Francisco—transitioned to a life in San Antonio and career in the Texas League, where he was treated to a bona fide Umpire Appreciation Night in honor of his 4,000th game at Turnpike Stadium in Arlington.

You might recognize umpire Dave Phillips (white shirt) delivering the silver tray to Walsh (plate umpire, right), who stands alongside fellow former NL umpire and native Texan Dusty Boggess (suit, center). Texas League President Hugh Finnerty (left) is at the microphone.

The Charleston Riverdogs play in the Southern Division of the Class-A South Atlantic League.


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