Saturday, July 31, 1999
Umps lash out at Baseball
13 firings prompt strong NL reaction
The Associated Press
MILWAUKEE One of the National League umpires let go this week said Friday the minor-league umps taking over are the equivalent of scabs and blamed two AL umps for splitting the union.
Terry Tata, an NL crew chief who is among the 22 umpires being forced out Sept.2, said AL umps Joe Brinkman and John Hirschbeck caused the union's strategy of mass resignations to collapse.
We have to be solid as a rock, and these guys have turned into pebbles, Tata, a 27-season veteran, said in Milwaukee before the Brewers played the Montreal Expos.
Tata's crew was the hardest hit, losing three of its four umpires. Tom Hallion and Bill Hohn also were among the 13 umps told Thursday that their resignations had been accepted.
Hallion said the actions by Brinkman and Hirschbeck affected all umpires. Fourteen of the dissident umpires issued a statement Thursday blaming the union's leadership, which is headed by negotiator Richie Phillips and union president Jerry Crawford.
This is about families getting ruined, Hallion said. If you're a human being I don't care if you're an umpire or a steel worker put it aside. What they're doing isn't right.
Tata, who has umpired the World Series four times and worked the All-Star Game earlier this month, said he intended to retire after the 2000 season. Even if he regains his job, he said he will quit at the end of the year, blaming the minor-league umps and Sandy Alder son, the official in the commissioner's office put in charge of umpires this season.
I can't work for Sandy Alderson and I won't work with scabs, Tata said. I did it in '79, and there's no way I'm going to do it again.
In their first confrontation with baseball, umps struck for the first seven weeks of the 1979 season, and games went on with replacements. While baseball kept some of the replacements and two of them remain Derryl Cousins and John Shulock the anger of the regular umps hasn't decreased much in the past two decades.
More than 40 umpires participated in a three-hour conference call Thursday night, speaking with their new lawyer, Bruce Simon, a veteran of fights involving airline pilots and Teamsters. Simon is widely respected, even among lawyers for the baseball owners.
It was boisterous. It was loud, Tata said.
Phillips spent Friday at Simon's office in New York preparing an unfair labor practice charge to be filed next week, possibly in New York instead of Philadelphia, Tata said. The union hopes the National Labor Relations Board will force baseball to take back the 22 umps.
People are tired of the issues, Tata said. They want the game of baseball.
Their case is expected to center on the effort by commissioner Bud Selig to shift supervision of umpires from the AL and NL presidents to Alderson, the executive vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner's office.
Phillips contends that because the umpires' labor contract is with the leagues, Alderson's involvement in umpiring matters violates, and perhaps voids, the agreement.
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