Welcome, friends, to another edition of KNOW YOUR WORLD SERIES UMPIRES.
Actually, this is the first edition. But if you demand another edition, boy ... Well, who knows. I'll try to remember for next year, but I'm getting old and the memory's slipping. What were we talking about? Oh. Right. Umpires.
Tuesday morning, Major League Baseball announced the umpiring crew for the 109th World Series. John Hirschbeck, who's been a full-time major leaguer since 1984, will serve as crew chief. Here's the full lineup:
Hirschbeck, who has more than 30 years of Major League experience, will lead a crew that features fellow regular season crew chiefs Dana DeMuth and Jim Joyce along with Major League Umpires Paul Emmel, Bill Miller and Mark Wegner. All six members of the crew worked the Division Series round of the 2013 Postseason, during which Hirschbeck and DeMuth also served as the crew chiefs for their match-ups.
Okay, so the truth is I don't know much about these guys. It seems there's nobody famously terrible in the group, which seems like a good thing. The good news is that I do have an official Major League Baseball Umpire Media Information Guide, and all these guys are in it. The bad news is that it's 10 years old, and not exactly packed with brilliantly interesting information. John Hirschbeck graduated from Central Connecticut State University and enjoys (or enjoyed, in 2003) hunting, golf, and fishing. So that's something.
Here's something else, which would be in a good media-information guide, and yes I'm going to lift this whole thing straight from Wikipedia because sometimes why the hell not:
Although most umpires stay out of the public eye, Hirschbeck came to be widely known for an on-field incident on September 27, 1996 in Toronto when Baltimore Oriole Roberto Alomar got into a heated, two-way argument with Hirschbeck over a called third strike. Hirschbeck then ejected Alomar from the game, and Alomar spat in Hirschbeck's face, claiming that the umpire had used a degrading ethnic slur against him. Lip readers contend that Hirschbeck called Alomar "a faggot" as Alomar was walking away. Alomar, and other players, claimed that Hirschbeck's personality had been extremely bitter since one son had died from adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) and another son had been diagnosed with it. Having heard Alomar's remarks, Hirschbeck charged into the Orioles' clubhouse the next day and he had to be restrained by fellow umpire, Jim Joyce. Alomar was suspended for five games and required to donate $50,000 to ALD research. By October 5, Hirschbeck said he had forgiven Alomar for the incident.
Alomar and Hirschbeck made public apologies to each other on April 22, 1997, standing at home plate and shaking hands in front of the crowd before an Orioles game. "You know, I just wanted to put it behind us," Hirschbeck said on an interview to the Arizona Republic in 2005. "I said something to him once and it just flooded out how sorry he was."
Hirschbeck and Alomar joined forces to raise awareness about ALD and to raise funds for research. They came to regard each other as friends. When asked about the incident at his retirement in 2005, Alomar said, "That, to me, is over and done. It happened over nine years ago. We are now great friends. We have done some things with charity. God put us maybe in this situation for something." Alomar later made a donation of $252,000 for research on adrenoleukodystrophy.
I'm always a bit surprised when I run across someone who still holds that incident against Alomar. It took Hirschbeck about a week to get over it, and yet somehow there are "fans" who still carry a grudge, 17 years later. There's just no figuring some people, I guess.
Of course, Jim Joyce is a highly respected umpire who will forever be remembered for one of this era's most famous blown calls. It's good to see that nobody's really holding it against him (except maybe the Tigers fans who were in the ballpark that night, I guess). His hobbies "include reading, art and Christmas lighting."
About Dana DeMuth ... Dana. Heh. Otherwise, you got me. Even Deadspin couldn't really come up with anything interesting, and they have spies everywhere.
Same for Paul Emmel, pretty much. Bill Miller ... he seems like an interesting fellow! Got a degree in history at UCLA, and his listed hobbies include beach volleyball and mountain biking. He does seem to have gained some happy fat over the last decade, which makes me wonder a little about the beach volleyball. Maybe he's a setter. Just last year, Miller was involved in an ugly situation with Brett Lawrie. Miller's crime? Probably missing a couple of close pitches, which happens but not usually in a row. Lawrie's crime, slamming his helmet to the ground in the wrong place, for which he received (and greatly deserved) a four-game suspension.
Mark Wegner's a) one of those umpires you wouldn't guess was an umpire, if you saw him walking down the street, and b) was the target of Hawk Harrelson's all-time greatest tirade. Here. Just because I like you so much:
Huh. I guess Commissioner Bud forgot to consult the Hawkeroo this time around. I hope this guy doesn't ruin everybody's World Series fun.