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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 advertising. 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.


West Vest and Major League Umpires Welcomes 3 new Full time Members

Scott Barry
Congratulations to Scott Berry for being selected to the Major League staff for the 2011 season…has 529 days of service in the Major Leagues as a call-up umpire in his career…has worked Major League Spring Training since 2006…he’s been called up to the Majors each year since 2006…first Major League game was June 4, 2006 (Red Sox at Tigers) when Scott was at third base. Scott was a Minor League Baseball umpire from 2000-2010, most recently in the International League (Triple-A) from 2005-2010. He is 34 and is a Michigan resident.

 Brian Knight
Congratulations to Brian Knight for being selected to the Major League staff for the 2011 season…has 730 days of service in the Major Leagues as a call-up umpire in his career…has worked Major League Spring Training since 2001…he’s been called up to the Majors each year since 2001…first Major League game was May 7, 2001 (White Sox at Rangers), when Brian was at third base. Brian was a Minor League Baseball umpire from 1995-2010, most recently in the Pacific Coast League (Triple-A) from 2000-2010. He is 36 and is a Montana resident.

Congratulations to Dan Bellino for being selected to the Major League staff for the 2011 season..has umpired professionally since 2003…has been assigned to work Major League Spring Training each year since 2009…has been called up to the Majors each year since 2008...has 156 days of service at the Major League level…made his Major League umpiring debut on June 25, 2008, when the Orioles played the Cubs at Wrigley Field…has worked in the New York-Penn League (2003), Midwest League (2004), Florida State League (2005), Eastern League (2006), Pacific Coast League (2007-2009) and International League (2010)…worked the Arizona Instructional League (2005), Hawaii Winter League (2006), Arizona Fall League (2007-2008) and Puerto Rico Winter League (2009).  Born in October 1978, resides in Illinois. He holds a law degree (J.D.), an MBA & has passed the bar exam.

Harvey Elected to Hall

Long time National League umpire Doug Harvey has been elected to the Hall of Fame.  Harvey umpired in five World Series (1968, 1974, 1981, 1984 and 1988), serving as crew chief in 1984 and 1988, and in six All-Star Games (1963, 1964, 1971, 1977, 1982 and 1992).  He umpired in the National League Championship Series nine times – 1970 (Games 2-3), 1972, 1976, 1980, 1983, 1984 (Game 5), 1986, 1989 and 1991.Image Veteran umpire Joe West said “it is a long time coming and we are very proud of him.”

Long time umpire Mike Reilly said this of Harvey, "Doug Harvey was someone I always respected coming up in the minor leagues.  I remember my first World Series assignment was in 1984 and I was honored to be chosen to umpire a World Series.  Then I found out that I would be umpiring with Doug, it was really special and an honor.  It is one of my best umpiring memories."

Senior umpire Ed Montague said of Harvey’s selection, "I am glad the hall recognized Doug, I am real proud of him.  Doug set the bar high along with umpires like Shag Crawford and Paul Runge.  When I look at Doug I think Hall of Fame."

The WUA and its members salute Doug on this most prestigious lifetime achievement award.



Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Current and retired umpires (L to R) Randy Marsh, Joe West, Bruce Froemming, Ed Montague and Jerry Crawford gather for a group picture before induction ceremonies at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York on July 25, 2010. The umps came to see former umpire Doug Harvey enshrined into the Hall of Fame.

Click to View

Four senior Major League Umpires retired, all were Crew Chiefs

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).




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.



Behind the Mask - Drew Coble Elon College 1975

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.

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.

“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.

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

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.”

by Kristin Simonetti


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.

After working many big games, including All-Star Games, league championship series and the 2008 World Series, above, Saugerties native Tom Hallion reached the ultimate goal for an umpire when he was promoted to crew chief.

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.”



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