New Articles This Week at The National Pastime Museum
“I am as proud of my record as an umpire,” George Pipgras told historian Larry Gerlach, “as my achievements as a player. . . . I am very proud to have been an umpire.” That’s a forthright and remarkable declaration from a man who played on the legendary 1927 New York Yankees and went undefeated in three World Series starts.
The most enduring baseball custom to emerge during the Great Depression—the midseason All-Star Game between the American and National Leagues—was the brainchild of several individuals with no direct connection to baseball.
Born in 1890 into a well-off family in Cass City, Michigan, Leland Stanford “Larry” MacPhail was a flashy dresser, a playboy, a hot-tempered loudmouth, and a heavy drinker. He was also a shrewd judge of talent and a no-holes-barred, go-getting innovator. Some called him a spendthrift. To that, his answer was simple: You have to spend money to make money.
Why don’t more catchers become umpires? The majority seem to be former pitchers, who are used to controlling the tempo and flavor of the game. But catchers are the field generals, calling defensive signals and selecting pitches. There’s a bond between catchers and umpires behind the plate, sharing the same wide-angle view of the field action and the same vulnerability to stray pitches and foul tips.