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As They See 'Em: A Fan's Travels in the Land of Umpires Paperback – March 16, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
As a typical fan, there is only so much that I care to know about the umpires' side of the baseball equation (just as Weber depicts in the book). Thus, it was with a bit of hesitation that I ordered this volume.
I had to take a deep breath when, early on, Weber delved into the history of umpiring and even the origin of the word. I was thinking "boy, this is not going to go well." I am happy to report that, due to Weber's research and writing style, I not only survived the history lesson but thoroughly enjoyed it as well.
Weber grabbed me right from the opening pages, taking a mundane topic (the umpire's cap), and turning it into an enjoyable narrative delivered in an amusing and colorful way. Already, I loved this guy's humor and repeated self-flagellation.
Throughout the book, Weber shares stories of all levels of umpires and the job itself. While it is clear that he respects the job that umpires do and, in most cases, the umpires themselves, this is not a gushing, starry-eyed love story. The reader is treated to warts and all.
Especially interesting to me, having never thought about it or been aware of it, is the consistently contentious relationship between the umpires and management, be it in the majors or throughout the minor league system. As a diehard fan, I cannot imagine myself ever feeling sympathetic towards the umps, but I am so glad that I now know more about how they got to where they are, and some of the things that they have to deal with it that most of us don't see.Read more ›
Weber does a magnificent job of explicating the details of the umpire's job. I guess I understood the principle that being in the right position to make a call is crucial, but I've never worked through the details of how the right position is determined, and how the umpiring crew (anywhere from 2 to 6, depending on the level of the teams and the time of year) coordinates all of this. It comes across in Weber's account as almost like a dance as the umpires rotate into position to cover the various contingencies based on the game circumstance (runners, number of outs) and, crucially, where the ball is hit. In the era of slow-mo instant replay, it's all the more incredible to me how often the umpires get their calls right. Yes, there are famous gaffes (e.g., Denkinger's call in game 6 of the 85 World Series between the Cardinals and Royals). But under a kind of scrutiny that I don't think any of the rest of us could endure, they are mostly right, even in the toughest of situations.
I also had not understood very well the path from minor league to major league umpiring. It's a long and frustrating path, and there are only a tiny number who make it. Attending umpire school is almost mandatory (and Weber goes to school, and gives us a great account). It takes on the order of a decade in the minor leagues to even get a chance, and even then, few are chosen.Read more ›
Bruce Weber takes you into this bazaar world and through the mask gives you a look at a job that nobody should want.
You go to school to learn how to walk on a field where nobody likes you, cares for you and even has the right to insult you and everything about your family.
You have no home. You travel sometimes in terrible conditions just to put on that uniform and equipment walk out on the field and get treated worse than Rodney Dangerfield. And you get to do this night after night.
It takes years to make it if at all. The wages are at poverty level until you reach the top, and that can take years and years.
Half way through the book I was depressed. I thought car sales, insurance, even pool cleaning would be better than this.
I encontered these creatures in my prior life and they are an odd group.
I remember a summer night in 1965 when the announcer for the Austin Braves left his microphone on between innings and attacked a previous call made by a young Bruce Froemming. Froemming immediately ran everybody in the press box and locked it up. Who would have thought that Bruce Froemmin all 5'6'' or so would go on to become the most senior of umpires. He was in control. He walked on that field like the sheriff in an old western town.
I love the stories of the Earl Weavers and others and would have like more of that than the technical side of the game. But overall I enjoyed learning more about these people that come from somewhere and decide to take on this awesome responsibility. I just question why?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book. Especially if you are an amateur umpire. Talks in detail about the Jim Evans school and PBUC. Read morePublished 2 months ago by kelly feniger
One of the best sport books out there. If you are a sports official of any kind, you will enjoy this book!Published 3 months ago by Lorenz M. Evans
I loved hearing about the stories of players, coaches, and umpires. This is a side of baseball that I had never known. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Rolando X Ramirez
Very interesting with much previously unknown -- to me -- information about my favorite game, baseball.Published 4 months ago by Linda B. Kellar
It was a good book, but can get bogged down in some of the details. I would recommend, but it is not a fast read by any stretch.Published 6 months ago by Brently Howell
Fascinating insight into the world of professional umpires, on the field and off. Discusses the long road through the minors up to the majors, what it's like being the person who... Read morePublished 9 months ago by P Maines
As a lifelong baseball fan, I don't expect to be surprised by my lack of knowledge about a fundamental part of the game, but this book continually upended my preconceptions about... Read morePublished 10 months ago by robert