Umpires are a vital part of the game. They lay down the law and instill order on the field. They keep the peace and pull the bodies out of the pile when mayhem ensues. Without them, chaos would overtake the game. Umpires could almost be considered the third team on the field, and if watched closely have their own game going on as well. The men in black are an underappreciated bunch at best and are the only ones that have to be perfect when they start their careers and improve from there. Today’s book looks at a Hall of Fame Umpiring career.
They Called Me God – The Best Umpire Who Ever Lived
By:Doug Harvey & Peter Golenbock-2014 Simon & Schuster
Doug Harvey’s career spanned four decades in the major leagues. He got to witness some spectacular careers during their prime and saw first hand some players who were considered part of baseballs golden age. On the field Harvey’s work speaks for itself. He earned his Hall of Fame induction through tireless dedication to the game and making his time on the field the best it could be. He always tried to remain true to the spirit of the game in the quality of his umpiring and was rewarded with his induction to Cooperstown.
Now all that being said we know what a great umpire Doug Harvey really was. Fans may not always want to admit it, but we know a good umpire when we see one. For those fans that are not sure what a good umpire looks like, just read this book and Doug Harvey will be glad to explain why he is the best umpire ever. He does not shy away in this book about explaining how hard he worked, and how he perfected his craft to a level above the others in the field. Doug has no hesitation of explaining how difficult his life was before he entered baseball and the rigorous standards he has adhered to his entire life and those ideals he never wavered from.
Now please don’t think I am ripping this book. They Called Me God is a very well written book and an enjoyable read. It keeps the reader very interested in the story and moves along nicely. Just have yourself prepared for a few hours of Doug Harvey telling you why he was so great. They didn’t call him God for no reason I guess! He reminds me of the same mold that Bob Feller was cast from. Their generation and life was the greatest, and no one has any chance of topping it. Call it pride, call it egotism, call it whatever you want, I just got a Bob Feller vibe from it.
Fans that enjoy the Umpires will really enjoy the book. I don’t think the get the respect they deserve most of the time, but this book goes a long way in helping you understand one of the greats of the game.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Simon & Schuster
Who cares if you have to stand, you are in the middle of all the action. Peering right over the Catcher’s shoulder you get every sight, sound and smell that makes the game great. It truly has to be a sight to behold as you take it all in up close. Now, the unromantic part. You are hated by fans, players and coaches alike at one time or another, for a myriad of reasons. You have to be perfect when starting your career and improve from there. Finally you have to earn and maintain your credibility as well as respect, numerous times over. All that being considered, it’s probably still a really great place to see a game!
The Best Seat in Baseball, But You Have to Stand
By:Lee Gutkind – 2014 Open Road Media
Let’s face it, being an umpire has to be a real crappy job at times. You are always being second guessed by everyone and you are expected to be right all the time as well. It’s a double-edged sword and the old saying, “You can’t make everybody happy” definitely apples to this profession. The umpires are usually not the stars of the game and live in relative anonymity. Moving from city to city behind the scenes to get to the next set of games.
Lee Gutkind has written a pretty cool book here. I know its dated, being from the 1974 season, but the underlying theme still applies today. Of course the salaries and accommodations for umpires have changed but the basic job has not. The second guessing has not subsided and the expectations to be perfect have gotten larger.
The author shadows a crew of National League Umpires from city to city and shows you really how they operate. You see the pre game work they do, beyond just muddying up the balls, to the aspects of life on the road and living out of suitcases and cheap hotels. It also shows the comradery between the members on this given crew. You get to see how they push each other to become better umpires and try to help one of their own drastically improve their game.
Umpires are a dedicated bunch. This book talks about the countless hours and years each man puts in to hone his craft. You hear stories about the conditions in the minors and his own call to the show. Each umpire is portrayed as a dedicated individual and given up countless hours of his life to reach for his dream and be a part of our great game.
After reading this book I have a new-found respect for the umpires. It shows it takes a special kind of individual to handle both the physical and mental aspect of the game of baseball. They are like a third team on the diamond working through plays of their own and in the end complimenting the actual game.
As stated above, the book is a little dated but it is a very enjoyable read. The financials of the game may have changed but the main story stays the same. I hope someday I can find a hard copy of this book to actually put in the Bookcase. I only was able to get a digital copy, so that will have to do for now.
You can get an e-copy this book from the nice folks at Open Road Integrated Media