10 Commandments of Umpiring

Let’s refer to Rule #1, shall we?

Ford Frick was an important man in baseball history. Early in his life, he was the ghostwriter for Babe Ruth. Then, he became President of the National League. While President, he supported and gained substantial support for the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum. In 1951, he was selected to be the Commissioner of Baseball. As Commissioner, he oversaw substantial expansion (the number of teams growing from 16 to 20), new television contracts, and began the draft. His most famous, or infamous, decision was to place an asterisk next to Roger Maris’ 61 homer season, but it was never actually put in the books. However, a less-known contribution is his 10 Commandments of Umpiring, which I hadn’t heard of before I ran across it today.

In 1949 (two years before becoming Commissioner), Frick published these rules for umpires:

1) Keep your eye on the ball.
2) Keep all your personalities out of it. Forgive and forget.
3) Avoid sarcasm. Don’t insist on having the last word.
4) Never charge a player and, above all, no pointing or yelling.
5) Hear only the things you should hear — be deaf to others.
6) Keep your temper. A decision made in anger is never sound.
7) Watch your language.
8) Take pride in your work at all times. Remember, respect for an umpire is created off the field as well as on.
9) Review your work. You’ll find, if you are honest, that 90% of the trouble is traceable to loafing.
10) No matter what your opinion of another umpire, never make an adverse comment regarding him. To do so is despicable and ungentlemanly.

All of these are sound rules, and I really like that he published these. Umpires are due a significant amount of respect, but they still need to be held accountable. Checks are always good for people in any position of authority lest they grow too powerful. For the most part, umpires act in respectable manner (players and coaches treat them unfairly far, far more often than the other way around), but they sometimes go outside of those bounds. Last Sunday, I went to a Louisville Bats game, and after a strike was called a ball, the pitcher did the typical slinking of the shoulders. The umpire, in retaliation, started yelling at him. His yelling was completely unnecessary as the pitcher really hadn’t done that much (I’ve seen much worse). Yes, the player should keep his actions in check, but the umpire shouldn’t retaliate, either.

On another note, we should probably change some of the wording. There are female umpires, too.


2 Responses to “10 Commandments of Umpiring”

  1. Ron Rollins Says:

    Just to clarify something, there never was an asterisk.

    Some sports writer in New York wrote that there should be, and somehow it became folk lore that there was one. But there wasn’t.

    The record books only recognize season accomplishments and don’t differentiate between how many games were played.

    Some books used to list the total for a 154-game season, and a total for a 162-game season, but there was never an asterisk and 61 was the record.

  2. tHeMARksMiTh Says:

    You are correct. The biographies of Frick that I looked at mentioned that he made the decision to include it, and it was later decided against. The way it was put made it sound like it happened and then didn’t. But I looked it up, and you are right. I will change that.

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