Sunday, December 26, 2010

Umpire Al Barlick Biography

Albert Joseph Barlick
(April 2, 1915 – December 27, 1995) was an American umpire in Major League Baseball who worked in the National League for 28 seasons (1940–43, 1946–55, 1958–71). He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.

Born in Springfield, Illinois, Barlick served in the Coast Guard during World War II. With his wife Jenny he had two daughters, Marlene and Kathleen.

In a career where he umpired from 1940 to 1971 he'll go down in history as former National League Umpire, Tom Gorman said, "the best I ever saw." His hiring was endorsed by the first ever Hall of Fame Umpire, Bill Klem. At one stage in his career he became so infuriated by National League President, Warren Giles decision not to suspend a player that he quit and went home. Giles begged him to return. He actually worked with Klem and taught umpiring to everyone that would listen. In 1962 he was crew chief of the crew that opened Dodger Stadium. The crew included "Shag" Crawford, Ed Vargo, and newly inducted Hall of Famer (class of 2010) Doug Harvey. All three became deciples of the man they affectionatly called "Moose." Barlick umpired in seven All-Star games (1942, 1949, 1952, 1955, first 1959 game, 1966 and 1970), tying the record held by Bill Summers, and called balls and strikes for the first half of the 1949 through 1966 games and all of the 1970 game. He officiated in seven World Series (1946, 1950, 1951, 1954, 1958, 1962 and 1967), serving as crew chief in 1954, 1958 and 1962. He also officiated the three-game playoff series to determine the NL's regular-season champion in both 1959 and 1962 (games 2 and 3), and was crew chief for the first National League Championship Series in 1969. In a poll conducted by the players he was voted the best umpire in the National League. He refused to acknowledge the poll, saying, "What would they know about umpiring?" Before the year was out the umpires conducted their own poll and he again was voted the best. This time he acknowledged the award. Fighting for all umpires, Barlick, along with Augie Donatelli, and "Shag" Crawford, formed the first umpire's union. Known as one of the toughest umpires to ever work in the major leagues, his eyes filled with tears as he accepted his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1989.

For 22 years after he retired, he acted as a consultant to the National League. He was responsible for mentoring Bruce Froemming, John McSherry, Frank Pulli, Terry Tata, Paul Runge, Ed Montague, Jim Quick, Gerald Crawford, Eric Gregg, Joe West, Randy Marsh, Charlie Williams, Steve Rippley, Bob Davidson, Tom Hallion, Greg Bonin, Larry Poncino, Mike Winters, and Ed Rapuano. Though Barlick worked for the National League, he was responsible for getting the American League to hire Drew Coble. He told the American League, "He's to good an umpire to be in the minor leagues and we don't have room for him." Barlick often told his umpires,"Though it's very bad to eject a player when he shouldn't be ejected, it's far worse to keep someone in the game who should be ejected." Barlick believed that you should help all umpires improve, no matter what level they were working... "You may have to work with 'em one day." Barlick died at age 80 in Springfield, Illinois due to cardiac arrest. His body was cremated and the ashes scattered.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Umpire Chuck Meriwether Biography

Julius Edward "Chuck" Meriwether
(born June 30, 1956 in Nashville, Tennessee) is an umpire in Major League Baseball. After working in the American League from 1988 to 1999, he has umpired in both leagues since 2000. He originally wore number 32, in 2001 and 2002 he wore number 22 but in 2004 switched to number 14 after offering veteran Joe West his original number when he was rehired..

After graduating from Athens State College in 1978, he first umpired in the minor leagues in 1979, reaching the American Association in 1986 before continuing up to the AL. He officiated in the 2004 World Series and 2007 World Series, and in the All-Star Game in 1996 and 2002. He has also umpired in the 2003 National League Championship Series and 2006 American League Championship Series, and in seven Division Series (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2007). He was the third base umpire for the single-game playoff to decide the NL's 2007 wild card team. He was also the third base umpire for David Cone's perfect game on July 18, 1999. Most recently he was the second base umpire for Mark Buehrle's perfect game on July 23, 2009.

On joining the league's staff, he became only the fifth African American umpire in major league history, and the first in the AL since Emmett Ashford retired in 1970. Coincidentally, Meriwether was behind the plate when the Boston Red Sox – the last major league team to integrate its roster – won its first World Series in 86 years in 2004, and he was again behind the plate when they won the Series three years later in 2007.

Before the start of the 2010 season, fellow MLB umpire Mike Dimuro wrote on his "Umps Care Blog" that Merriweather will sit out the 2010 season on the Disabled List and then retire following the 2010 season. His son, Chris Meriwether, is a walk-on point guard for the Vanderbilt University basketball team.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Major League Umpire Mike Reilly Biography

Michael Eugene Reilly (born July 2, 1949 in Sioux City, Iowa) is an umpire in Major League Baseball who has worked in the American League from 1977 to 1999 and throughout both major leagues since 2000. Reilly was raised and still resides in Battle Creek, Michigan, the breakfast cereal capital of the world (a fact which prompted longtime baseball broadcaster Ernie Harwell to nickname him "Corn Flakes Reilly"). Upon Ed Montague's retirement in February 2010, Reilly became Major League Baseball's senior umpire; his 4,362 career games ranked ninth in major league history entering the 2010 season.

He has umpired in the World Series in 1984, 1992, 2002 and 2007, and in the All-Star Game in 1982, 1993, 2000, and 2010, calling balls and strikes for the last two contests. He has also officiated in nine League Championship Series (1983, 1987, 1991, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2006), 2008) and six Division Series (1981, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2007). He also umpired in the 1976 Caribbean World Series. He was the third base umpire for David Wells' perfect game on May 17, 1998.

Reilly has worn the uniform number 31 since the American League adopted numbers in 1980. He continued to wear the number when umpires were combined into a single staff under the supervision of Major League Baseball in 2000.

Along with Steve Palermo, Reilly was one of the first American League umpires to never use the outside chest protector. Reilly and Palermo came to the junior circuit in 1977, the year the AL mandated all new umpires on staff would have to use the inside chest protector, which had been in use in the National League for decades. Umpires on staff prior to 1977 were grandfathered and could continue to wear the outside protector.

Reilly received an associate's degree from K.C.C. Junior College in 1970. He is a member of the Board of Directors for Big Brothers/Big Sisters and works with the Food Bank South Central Michigan. He was elected to St. Philip Catholic Central Hall of Fame in 1999 and is recognized by American Amateur Baseball as a consultant. He became interested in umpiring after taking a sports officiating class in college. His proudest moment as a major league umpire was working his first World Series (1984) in his home state. He coaches basketball at St. Philip/St. Joseph in the offseason and his hobbies include hunting, fishing, golfing and following the University of Notre Dame. He is such a fan, that at the Army/Notre Dame game, he was sitting 3 rows from the top of the stadium with his wife Mary at this year's first collegiate game ever played at the new Yankee Stadium.

Reilly's wife Mary graduated from the University of Michigan and is currently an elementary teacher. Together they have four children: Katie, Ryan, Patrick and Conor. Katie attended Michigan State and now lives in Florida. Ryan attended Albion College, and played baseball for the Britons. Patrick attends Western Michigan, and Conor recently graduated from St. Philip Catholic Central, where Mike Reilly graduated in 1968.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jerry Crawford Biography - Veteran Umpire

Gerald Joseph Crawford (born August 13, 1947 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an umpire for Major League Baseball. He first umpired in the National League in 1977, and since 2000 has worked in both major leagues. He has been a crew chief since 1998. He is also the brother of National Basketball Association (NBA) referee Joe Crawford and the son of former major league umpire Shag Crawford. The Crawford family was the subject of an HBO Sports Special highlighting the careers of all three.

He has worked in the playoffs 18 times, and every season from 1998 through 2006, including the
World Series in 1988, 1992, 1998, 2000, and 2002, serving as crew chief in 1992 and 2002; the League Championship Series in 1980, 1983, 1985, 1990, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2006, with all but the last two being in the NL; and the Division Series in 1981, 2000, 2002 and 2004. His 11th appearance in the League Championship Series in 2005 broke the record he had previously shared with Bruce Froemming. He has worked more post season games than anyone. He also umpired in the All-Star Game in 1989 and was the home plate umpire for the 2006 All-Star Game. As his father worked the first game at Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium on April 10, 1971 at home plate, Crawford worked home plate in the last game at "The Vet" on September 28, 2003 and repeated the honors when Citizens Bank Park opened April 12, 2004.
Crawford was a former president of the
Major League Umpires Association.

Crawford retired effective December 2010 after 34 years as a Major League Umpire.

Monday, October 25, 2010

2010 World Series Umpire Crew

Heading the Crew and handling the Crew Chief duties is John Hirschbeck, a 27 year veteran with 2 All Star games, 8 Divisional Series, and 4 League Championship Series.

You'll probably remember him as the plate umpire for Roy Halliday's no-hitter in the Divisional Series against the Reds.

This will be John's 3rd World Series.

With 2 All Star games, 9 Divisional Series, 3 League Championship Series, and working his second World Series, Gary Darling will be the second man in seniority on this World Series.

Jeff Kellogg will be the third man in seniority, and has a resume of 2 All Star games, 6 Divisional Series, 5 League Championship Series. This will be Jeff's fourth World Series.

Mike Winters brings an impressive resume to the Series with 2 All Star games, 7 Divisional Series, 3 League Championship Series and this will be his third World Series.

Sam Holbrook will be making his debut to the Fall Classic and has experience in 3 Divisional Series, 2 League Championship Series, and an All Star game.

Bill Miller rounds out the staff and is working his first World Series with experience in an All Star game, 5 Divisional Series, and a League Championship Series.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

WestVest Platinum Chest Protector

Publish PostIt’s the top of the line developed by Major League umpire Joe West, manufactured for maximum protection! It’s simple: The Platinum fits better! It conforms at your shoulders, and enhanced side pads add comfort and protection. Worn by numerous Major League Umpires. This umpire chest protector has the most armor and is the hottest selling protector for both the Minor League umpires and the collegiate ranks.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Majorleague ump Ed Rapuano backs Pope John Paul II

When an assistant baseball coach at Pope John Paul II High in Boca Raton fell ill last winter, the school didn't have to look far to find a qualified temp.

Coaching at first base for a few games was one of the school's biggest boosters - Major League Baseball umpire Ed Rapuano.

"I put the Pope John uniform on for a couple of games. My wife got a chuckle out of it,' Rapuano said this week before working a game in Detroit.

During his 20 years umpiring in the big leagues, Rapuano has heard more than an earful from angry players and managers. He once threw Philadelphia's Shane Victorino out of a game - for arguing balls and strikes from his position in center field.

But Rapuano laughed and said he never thought about taking advantage of his rare role reversal to spew any venom at the high school umps.

"I tried to disguise myself a little bit and wear sunglasses, but they all knew who I was,' he said. "Those guys do a heck of a job and they were all really great.'

Rapuano, 52, has lived in Boca Raton for 20 years, since his earliest days as an umpire in the Florida State League. Although his job keeps him on the road most days during baseball season, he has kept his allegiances close to home.

Rapuano is helping raise money to build the first baseball fields at Pope John Paul II, whose team has played its games at Boca Raton's Sugar Sand Park.

"We've had alumni involved, too, but our biggest driving force up to now has been Eddie Rapuano,' said Athletic Director Scott Baker.

The school is still working on construction estimates and a time table, but Rapuano said it's important to raise money now in hopes that the new fields will attract more students.

"We're on the ground floor, but it's moving along,' he said.

He raised $7,000 by raffling off a ball autographed by the Yankees. He also hosted a wine-tasting charity with Greg Norton, the school's softball coach.

"He has been first-class all the way,' baseball coach Pete Graffeo said. "He will do anything he can to help the program. At first, I thought he was too good to be true.'

Rapuano has a vested interest in Pope John Paul II. His three kids went to school there - Eddie (24) and Rosalie (20) graduated and 17-year-old Nick is entering his senior year.

The school recently hired former Dolphins running back and Notre Dame star Autry Denson as its new football coach. Rapuano said the next step is to build the baseball fields.

"The Catholic schools are low on attendance with the economy the way it is. Athletics is a good way to bring kids to the school,' Rapuano said. "Since my name has been out there, we've been getting a lot of nibbles on the hook. Hopefully we get more kids to apply.'

Rapuano said he's convinced that baseball fields at the school will boost team pride, pointing out how the players respond when they work out in batting cages on the school grounds.

"I noticed the difference in the kids' attitudes when they are on their complex, when they're at the school with the football and lacrosse teams at the other end of the field and soccer team playing on the football field and their school in the background. You can see how much better they respond when they're actually in their own backyard,' he said.

Volunteering for the school, Rapuano is often asked by players and parents about life as a major-league umpire. He worked the 1995 and 2008 All-Star Games and the 2001 and 2003 World Series.

"After Game 6 in New York, I remember standing there and watching as they all ran in,' Rapuano said about the Marlins' clinching win at Yankee Stadium in '03. "Seeing those expressions on those guys' faces, the underdogs just beating the Yankees, was something I'll never forget.'

But his most memorable game was his first - May 11, 1990 - because his daughter Rosalie was born the next day.

"My wife, Valerie, was due a week later, and when I got called to the big leagues she didn't want me to miss my first weekend,' he said.

"I worked the game on a Friday night in Pittsburgh behind the plate. The next afternoon, she called me and said, 'What do you want to name your daughter?' I didn't know whether to be angry that I wasn't there or happy.

"That night, our crew put it on the scoreboard, 'Congratulations third-base umpire Ed Rapuano on the birth of your daughter.' '

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wilson Chrome Moliben Face Mask

The masks were designed for Wilson by Joe West evolved into two single (as opposed to hinged) cross bars for optimal vision. (Masks that have the bars hinged together create a blind spot on balls that are hit up or down).
Because all "wire" masks are and have been made of tubular steel Wilson had to "beef" up these cross bars and in so doing started making them of solid steel for strength. Click here to view this umpire mask and other quality umpire gear.


Lightweight umpire mask with a chrome Moliben alloy frame for comfort


The smallest of the masks, fits close to your face.


Absorbent leather padding


Higher visibility is obtained because the wire is closer to your face


Velcro adjustments for a comfort fit


MLB® logo on back harness


Ultra Light: 1.7 lbs.


Worn by Major League Umpire Jeff Kellogg

Fake umps put on show in Cincy for charity

CINCINNATI -- They received national attention for their act last year, and now Tim Williams and Joe Farrell have come out of retirement for charity and are back ringing up batters from the stands as part of the "Four Games for Bears" tour.

Williams are Farrell are best known as the "fake umpires" for dressing up in full Major League umpire outfits, sitting in the first row behind home plate and mimicking the calls of real umpires on the field. They retired the act after one year in 2009, but at the request of real umpires, they brought it back to raise money for MLB umpires' UMPS CARE Charities.

"We like to come to the game, have a few beers and have some fun, and then we met these umpires and they said, 'I think it would be cool if you could raise a little money,' and it's amazing," Farrell said. "If you can do all this, have fun and raise a little money, what the heck, you know what I mean?"

The fake umpires planned a four-game road trip, covering their own costs to games in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Boston and their hometown of Toronto from Thursday-Sunday. The two work in the investment business, and clients, family and friends helped them raise money for the trip. More than $7,000 was raised beforehand, all going to the Major League umpires' children's hospital program that brings Build-A-Bear Workshops to the beside of children with cancer or other serious illnesses.

In addition to the money raised, Williams and Farrell each pledged $10 to the charity for every strikeout they see in the four games.

"We enjoyed it last year, and we weren't doing it for any charity angle whatsoever," Williams said. "Now, to have the opportunity to come out and support UMPS CARE, which we've seen personally the impact it makes, it's great."

Their first appearances in Toronto in 2009, followed by trips to stadiums like Yankee Stadium, gained them national notoriety, first through blogs and then through an ESPN story. Before the game at Great American Ball Park on Thursday, Reds fans approached them and asked to pose for pictures, and Williams and Farrell happily obliged all the requests, putting their masks on and pumping their fists in strikeout motions.

The fans enjoy the act, and so do the real umpires. Williams and Farrell were invited to the umpires' charity golf tournament in Arizona in January - which they help sponsor -- and were approached to do the ballpark tour to raise money.

Although they constantly get asked when they're going to appear at a game again, they know it's not a long-term thing. But doing it for charity is a different story.

"We kind of tell them [people who ask] that it's a bit of a novelty act, it'll get old pretty fast if you're doing 20 games in the same stadium," Williams said. "But we're happy to come out of retirement for UMPS CARE."

Matt Brown is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Saugerties native Hallion named MLB crew chief

As a major league umpire, Tom Hallion has been able to achieve many career milestones, including working All-Star games, League Championship Series and World Series.

Now he’s reached the highest position an umpire can aspire to — crew chief.

The Saugerties native earned the promotion at the beginning of spring training and is looking forward to having his own crew when the regular season begins next week.

“It’s very rewarding. It’s almost feels like I’ve come full circle,” said Hallion, who talked by phone Monday after working the Astros-Pirates exhibition in Bradentown, Fla. Ironically, he was on his way to St. Petersburg to watch Saugerties High’s baseball team play a preseason game.

“I’m very thrilled,” he said.

With the retirements of Charlie Reliford, Randy Marsh, Ed Montague and Rick Reed, Hallion was promoted by the Commissioner’s office along with Brian Gorman, Jeff Kellogg and Jerry Layne.

A 17-year veteran, Hallion has umpired two All-Star games, three divisional series, two LCS and the 2008 World Series.

Hallion had been in Jerry Crawford’s crew the last two years.

“It’s sad. It’s Jerry’s last year and I wanted to stay with him. I was caught between a rock and a hard place,” said Hallion, who filled in as a acting chief when Crawford was sidelined by a bad back last year.
Crawford pushed him to accept the position.

The retirement of four chiefs allowed for the shuffling and creation of new crews. Hallion’s new crew includes Ed Rapuano, Ron Kulpa and Lance Barksdale.

Rapuano actually filled in when Crawford was out in ’09 and he also worked with Hallion in the ’08 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium.

“I’ve worked a little bit with Eddie and Ron. I’ve never worked with Lance,” Hallion said.

The crew makes its’ debut next Monday afternoon in Kansas City when the Royals open against the Detroit Tigers. The unit heads to Texas after that for the Rangers and the Seattle Mariners.

Hallion’s crew will spend much of its time this season west of the Mississippi River. After the first weekend, they go to Colorado, San Diego, Arizona, then back to Texas.

Their schedule calls for only two trips to New York, including a late-season series at Yankee Stadium, and no visits to Boston.

“My niece lives up there in Boston. I had to break the bad news that I’m not heading that way,” Hallion said.

His first major league game was in 1985, but Hallion was out of baseball in ’99 as part of a failed stand by umpires which led to 22 arbiters’ resignations being accepted.

He returned as a minor league ump in ’03, made his way back to the majors by ’05 and was fully reinstated in ’07.

In another instance of coming full circle, Hallion was part of the negotiating team for the World Umpires Association that hammered out a new five-year collective bargaining agreement that was unanimously approved.

It was the largest umpiring contract ever signed, Hallion said.

Adding to the irony was Hallion sitting across the table during negotiations from Rob Manfred, MLB’s Executive Vice President for Labor Relations. Manfred was involved in the MLB’s handling of the ’99 situation that led to Hallion’s dismissmal.

“It was kind of interesting,” remarked Hallion, who plans to umpire for at least five or more six years in order to help out with the next contract.

As for memories with Crawford’s crew, last Aug. 26 in Toronto won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Hallion had to replace Crawford behind the plate early in the game when the veteran crew chief took a foul ball off his face mask.

In the sixth inning, Travis Snider swung and missed at a Scott Kazmir pitch that crossed up Tampa Bay catcher Gregg Zaun. The 92-mph pitch hit smacked Hallion in the chest, bringing him down.

“He was calling for a slider outside. Kazmir threw a fastball inside,” Hallion remembered.

“It was like I got shot.

“It was never touched. It got the bottom of the chest protector and part of the flesh.”

It didn’t leave a Rawling’s logo on him, but a “bruise that ended up six different shades of color.”

Medical staff rushed to his side and a cart was brought out, but he eventually rose and walked off without assistance. After a 21-minute delay, Hallion returned to handle third base.

“Jerry was already out. I wasn’t going to leave us down to two guys,” he said. “They let me go stand at third base and help with the rotation. They made me promise not to move.”

The bruise eventually went away. Hallion accepts the risk, saying “It was the nature of the beast.” He did, though, get a new chest protector.

“(Umpiring legend) Joe West makes a vest that’s a little longer,” he said. “The next day he called me and said, ‘Your new protector is on the way and you’ll have it before the next time behind the plate.”

Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Crew Chiefs Selected

New Crew Chiefs were selected by the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball to replace Reliford, Reed, Marsh, and Montague. These umpires include Tom Hallion, who first joined the National League Staff in 1986, Jerry Layne, a 21 year veteran, Brian Gorman, an 18 year veteran, and Jeff Kellogg, a 17 and a half year veteran

Four Senior Umpires Retire

Charlie Reliford moved into a position with the Office of the Commissioner after 20 years as a Major League Umpire. His career included 2 All Star Games (1996, 2007), 4 Divisional Playoff Series (1995, 1997, 2000, 2004), 3 League Championship Series (1999, 2001, 2002), and 2 World Series(2000, 2004). A long time instructor at Harry Wendelstedt's School for umpires, Charlie served as the only committee member allowed by the Commissioner's Office to be on the Rules Committee. He was a tremendous asset to the Joint Committee on Training.

Rick Reed has left the field to be an Observer for the Office of the Commissioner after 28 years as a Major League Umpire. He was the Chief of the crew that worked the first Major League games ever played in China and his crew opened the season in 2008 in the "Japan Opening Series." He worked Dave Righetti's and Joe Crowley's No-Hitters and was one of the umpires for George Brett's 3,000th hit. He worked 2 All Star Games (1986,1998), 3 Divisional Series (1997, 2000, 2001), 3 League Championship Series (1989, 1995, 1999) and the World Series in 1991. He made his acting debut as the home plate umpire in the Kevin Costner film "For The Love Of the Game" in 1999.

Randy Marsh has left the field and taken a supervisory position with the Office of the Commissioner after 28 years as a Major League Umpire. He has worked 4 All Star Games (1985, 1988, 1996, 2006), 5 Divisional Series (1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2006), 9 League Championship Series (1989, 1992, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009) and 5 World Series (1990,1997,1999, 2003, 2006). Also, a long time instructor for Harry Wendelstedt, Randy was also one of the original instructors at Major League Baseball's Urban Youth Academy at Compton, California in November of 2006. Randy was part of the first Joint Committee on Training and collaborated on the first Major League Umpire Manuel.

Ed Montague, the Dean of Major League Umpires for the last two years has retired after 35 years as a Major League Umpire (tied for 3rd all time). He worked 4 All Star Games (1982,1990,1998, 2004), 7 Divisional Series (1981, 1995, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007), 8 League Championship Series (1979, 1984, 1987, 1992, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2002), and 6 World Series (1986, 1991, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2007). Ed was the Crew Chief of the last four World Series he worked. The only other umpires in history to achieve that were Al Barlick, Bill Klem, and Tom Connelly (all Hall of Famers). Ed had worked the most World Series games of any active umpire at the time of his retirement. He was 12th on the all time list for Most World Series Games Umpired. His 65 other post season games make him 4th all time for Most Post Season Games Umpired with 99. His 4,369 games ranks him 8th all time. Four of the eight are in the Hall of Fame (Klem, Connelly, McGowan, and new this year Doug Harvey).

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

John Kibler, Umpire for Bill Buckner’s Error, Dies at 81

PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) — John Kibler, a longtime National League umpire, died here Thursday. He was 81.

Kibler died of a heart attack, his family said. Kibler worked his first major league game in 1963 and was a full-time National League umpire from 1965 through 1989. He worked the World Series four times, and was at first base for Game 6 of the 1986 Series between the Mets and the Boston Red Sox, which the Mets famously won when Mookie Wilson’s ground ball rolled between first baseman Bill Buckner’s legs.

Kibler was the plate umpire for Game 7, when the Mets beat the Red Sox for the championship.

Kibler served in the Navy during the Korean War and left the New York state police to go to umpiring school. He started out as a minor league umpire in the late 1950s and became a major league crew chief in 1977.

He was married for 51 years. Kibler and his wife, Dorothy, had two sons.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Behind the Mask - Drew Coble '75

Though he retired from umpiring in Major League Baseball more than a decade ago, Drew Coble has vivid memories of his days working in the big leagues and the minors. Read on for Coble’s insights into the world of umpiring, as well as his favorite moments of his baseball career.

The umpiring life

E-net! image (see caption if available)

A standout catcher and first baseman, Drew Coble (right) led Elon in batting average, hits and RBI in 1973.

Just as it is for ballplayers, the quality of life is far different for umpires in the minor leagues compared with the majors.

After earning one of the two minor-league positions offered at the conclusion of his umpire training course in 1975, Coble started work in the long-season Class A Western Carolina League. Over the next couple of years, he moved up to the higher-level Class-A Carolina League and, in 1977, the Class AA Southern League.

“In the minors, the pay was really low,” Coble recalls. “You had to drive everywhere. You’d drive through the night, and you’d just hope you could get some sleep before you had to work the next night. That’s what the minor leagues were like.”

Coble spent 10 days working in the Southern League before he caught the eye of Barney Deary, the head of minor-league umpires at the time. Deary liked what he saw and promoted Coble to Class AAA, the last stop in minor-league play before the majors. Class AAA was an improvement in lifestyle, but still posed challenges for Coble and his family.

“In triple-A, you fly everywhere, and the money is a little bit better, but it’s not great,” he says. “I had a second job in the wintertime to get enough money for my family to get by.”

One phone call in April 1981 changed all that.

“It was opening day (of the MLB season), and I was sitting at home, watching the Cincinnati Reds on TV,” Coble recalls. “The phone rang, I picked it up, and the person said ‘Drew, this is Dick Butler (head of umpires) of the American League. I want to welcome you to the American League.’”

Though his time in the majors directly following Butler’s call lasted only a few games, Coble returned to the majors for good in June of that year.

E-net! image (see caption if available)

Former Elon baseball coach Jerry Drake (left) introduced Coble for his 2007 induction to the Elon Sports Hall of Fame.

“Once you get to the big leagues, you fly everywhere, you stay in first-class hotels, you travel first class,” he says. “It’s just a big, big difference (from the minors).”

Favorite memories in baseball

Over his nearly 20-year career as a major-league umpire, Coble witnessed some amazing moments in baseball. For example, in 1990, he became only the fifth umpire since 1901 to work two no-hitters in a single season; he was on hand for A’s pitcher Dave Stewart’s no-no against the Blue Jays on June 29, and Blue Jays pitcher Dave Steib’s against the Cleveland Indians on Sept. 2.

“When you’re working, you kind of get caught up in the game. Then you realize, ‘Hey, this guy is throwing a no-hitter, and he’s depending on me to make the calls,’” Coble says. “It’s a little bit of pressure.”

As an AL umpire, Coble worked alongside stars and hall-of-famers, including the New York Yankees’ Reggie Jackson, the Kansas City Royals’ George Brett and the Milwaukee Brewers’ Robin Yount. In his first game after being recalled to the major leagues in June 1981, Coble remembers getting to work with A’s manager Billy Martin, a man famously fired and re-hired multiple times by George Steinbrenner when Martin worked for the Yankees.

But perhaps his favorite memory of his career was working the classic 1991 World Series between the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves. The series lasted the maximum seven games, three of which went to extra innings. Coble worked the plate for one of those extra-inning affairs, Game 3 in Atlanta, when Mark Lemke’s single to left scored David Justice from second for the game-winning run in the bottom of the 12th, giving the Braves a 2-1 victory. The Twins, however, prevailed in the series.

“I had more fun in that World Series than God knows what,” Coble recalls. “(The umpires) had our families with us, and it was like a 10-day vacation. All I had to do was work a couple of hours each night.”

Thursday, January 14, 2010

West Vest Gold Chest Protector

West Vest Gold Chest Protector - It’s the top of the line developed by Major League umpire Joe West, manufactured for maximum protection! This chest protector provides you with a level of protection demanded by professional umpires. Accept nothing less then the best. Sized to fit your body; adjustable for comfort. Black only, 12” length. Select your protector based on your coat size. Size S-M for coat sizes under 38. Size M-L for coat sizes 38 to 44. Size L-XL for coat sizes 46 to 54. Sized to fit your body; adjustable for comfort. One of two protectors endorsed by Major League Baseball for use by its umpires. Check out this quality chest protector at