Sunday, February 5, 2012

Longtime Baseball Umpire and Supervisor Marty Springstead dies at age 74

All Major League Umpires will be wearing a patch in memory of Marty Springstead this season

Martin John Springstead (July 9, 1937 – January 17, 2012) was a former umpire in Major League Baseball who worked in the American League from 1966 to 1985 and had since worked as an umpire supervisor. He was the youngest umpire ever to serve as crew chief in the World Series, heading the staff for the 1973 Series at the age of 36 years and 3 months.

Springstead was born in Nyack, New York. Springstead graduated from Mount Saint Michael Academy in the Bronx, where he played basketball and ran track as well as playing baseball. He then attended Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey, majoring in a
dvertising. After a brief playing career as a catcher for American Legion and semi-pro teams, he attended the Al Somers umpiring school and began his career in the Class "C" Northern League in 1960. In 1961-1962 he served in the Army's 2nd Armored Division at Fort Hood, Texas, where he continued to play in and officiate baseball games. He then worked in the Southern League (1963-65) before joining the AL staff in 1966. Throughout his career he lived in the communities of Garnerville and Suffern, both near his birthplace.

Springstead officiated in the All-Star Game in 1969, 1975, and 1982. In addition to the 1973 World Series, he also worked the 1978 and 1983 Series, again serving as crew chief in 1983. Springstead, who became an AL crew chief in 1974, also officiated four American League Championship Series in 1970 (Games 2-3), 1974, 1977 and 1981. He also officiated in five no-hitters, including being the home plate umpire for two: Clyde Wright's on July 3, 1970 and Mike Warren's on September 29, 1983. Springstead wore uniform number 4 starting in 1980, when the AL adopted numbers. Upon his retirement, the number was assigned to Tim Tschida, who continues to wear No. 4 as a crew chief on MLB's combined umpiring staff.

Springstead retired from field duties after the 1985 season and became the AL's fourth Executive Director of Umpires on January 1, 1986, succeeding Dick Butler. In 2000, when the umpiring staffs of the American and National Leagues were combined, he became a special assistant to Major League Baseball's vice president for umpiring.

He was a popular guest speaker and conducted umpiring clinics for the Japanese Professional Umpires of the Pacific League; in addition, he taught umpiring in Canada and for the United States Air Force in Spain, Holland and Germany. Springstead died of a heart attack on January 17, 2012 while swimming near his home in Sarasota, Florida. He was 74.

Marty's picture is displayed in famous restaurants around the country. At one New York establishment, executive director of Major League Baseball, Sandy Alderson (now with the New York Mets) remarked after seeing Marty's picture, "Maybe someday I'll have my picture on the wall here." Marty snapped, "Not in your lifetime."

Marty was loved by hundreds of people. It was not uncommon for people that were sent to restaurants around the country by Marty to have their meal served "on the house"... Many times the establishments wouldn't even let them leave a tip. All they wanted was for them to "tell Marty we said, 'Hello.' ''

Respected by management, players, and umpires, when news of his death reached the major league umpires at their union meeting, the umpires abruptly called off their meeting in respect of him. Over 50 umpires came to pay their respects at his funeral in Siesta Key, Florida. Sandy Alderson was there, too.

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