An Umpire’s Valentine

knickerbocker rules

Before baseball even got to the bases, innings, or outs, there was an umpire:

Rule #2 of baseball’s “Knickerbocker Rules” (1845):

When assembled for exercise, the President, or in his absence, the Vice-President, shall appoint an Umpire, who shall keep the game in a book provided for that purpose, and note all violations of the By-Laws and Rules during the time of exercise.”

The only thing more important than an umpire? Rule #1 which reminds players to “strictly observe the time agreed upon for exercise, and be punctual in their attendance.”

So, let’s give umpires some love on Valentine’s Day …

First, don’t call it a clicker.

“[A] ball and strike indicator … figured in my very first lesson in how to be a professional umpire: Never call it a clicker. (Why? Nobody ever said, but, I guess it’s like an opera singer’s not referring to an aria as a song.)”  ~ Bruce Weber, As They See ‘Em: A Fan’s Travels In The Land of Umpires

ball strike indicator

Not a clicker.

Don’t call the Umpire “Blue.”  It’s just rude as it was once a heckle and it was spelled “Blew” – as in “Hey, Blew, you blew the call!”

Embed from Getty Images


Don’t slug the umpire, even in the name of poetry.

Mother, may I slug the umpire
May I slug him right away?
So he cannot be here, Mother
When the clubs begin to play?

Let me clasp his throat, dear mother,
In a dear delightful grip
With one hand and with the other
Bat him several in the lip.

~ Anonymous, Chicago Tribune, 1886

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