The Men in Blue


The Men in Blue

Conversations with Umpires

Larry R. Gerlach

294 pages


March 1994


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

The philosopher Jacques Barzun thought that "whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball." And whoever wants to know baseball had better learn about umpires. As Larry Gerlach points out in The Men in Blue, these arbiters transform competitive chaos into organized sport. They make it possible to "play ball," but nobody loves them.

Considering the abuse meted out by fans and players, why would any sane person want to be an umpire? Many reasons emerge in conversations with a dozen former major league arbiters. While nobody loves them, they love the game. Gerlach has elicited entertaining stories from these figures under fire--about their lonely travels, their dealings with umpire baiters, battles for unionization, breaking through the color line, and much more. From Beans Reardon, who came up to the National League in 1926, to Ed Sudol, who retired in 1977, here is a witty and telling portrait of baseball from the boisterous Golden Age to the Jet Age of Instant Replay.

Author Bio

Larry R. Gerlach is a professor of history at the University of Utah. A frustrated player, he took to umpiring only to learn that he "couldn’t call the pitch either." Writing about baseball, he says, is a way of "staying in the game." He is also author of the introduction to the Bison Books edition of Harry S. Johnson’s Standing the Gaff: The Life and Hard Times of a Minor League Umpire.


"Despite their importance, umpires are the invisible men of baseball. Players and fans insult them, though never by printable names. Official histories ignore them. . . . Now, through the efforts of Larry Gerlach, the umpires strike back. . . . As The Men in Blue amply testifies, all of them seemed to enjoy every minute of their misery. So will any reader who spends a summer evening with Gerlach’s despised dozen."—Time

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