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As They See 'em: A Fan's Travels in the Land of Umpires

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  1,049 ratings  ·  129 reviews
Millions of American baseball fans know, with absolute certainty, that umpires are simply overpaid galoots who are doing an easy job badly. Millions of American baseball fans are wrong.

As They See ’Em is an insider’s look at the largely unknown world of professional umpires, the small group of men (and the very occasional woman) who make sure America’s favorite pastime is
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Published August 1st 2009 by Phoenix Audio (first published 2009)
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I was a FIFA and NCAA soccer referee for eight years, and when I watch a match now I spend more time watching the officials than the players, their positioning, their interactions with the players, their decisions, etc.

“The impetus for this book was a visit I made in January 2005 to the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring in Kissimmee, Florida, in order to write a story for the New York Times, where I work as a reporter. I thought it would be a lark, a chance to talk baseball rules and ba
Desiree Koh
Baseball fans love the minutiae of logic, the extrapolation of emotion, the magic of the moment and the nudge of nostalgia. And that's why if you love being wedged on a pew in the church of baseball, holy water in a plastic cup and communion with relish on top, you'll really enjoy this book.

Sports reporters can tend to be beautifully verbose and master of the simile, and I love all that. I've never read any of Bruce Weber's baseball writing for the New York Times, but in this book, he sits himse
Did you know it's more difficult to become a major league umpire than to become a major league baseball player, based on the number of slots available -- and once someone rises to the majors, he holds onto the position like a supreme court judge? NYT reporter Bruce Weber covers all aspects of umpiring--from myths to history to politics--like an anthropologist, even going so far as to attend one of the two grueling 5-week umpire schools in the country to round out dozens of interviews with hired, ...more
As They Seem 'Em provides some level of insight into an aspect of sport that is often overlooked -- the development, life, history and challenges of umpires in professional baseball. While the book is often interesting, at times it is tediously over-wordy and slow moving. It could probably stand to be edited and slimmed to some extent.

Weber ranges from his own experiences in umpire school, to the wretched lives of umpires working through the lowest levels of minor league baseball, to the compl
As They See 'Em is not JUST for baseball fanatics. This interesting and well-written account will appeal to anyone with a basic knowledge of baseball. Bruce Weber weaves his experiences at baseball umpire school, umpiring non-professional games and, even, umpiring a few innings of a major league intra-squad spring training game with lots of interviews. He interviewed major league and minor league umps, players, managers, and officials. The stories are peppered with humor and tension. He includes ...more
As a casual baseball fan, I am pretty sure there have been umpires at most of the games I have attended. Beyond that I had no knowledge of them. This book will fill you in! The tension in which the game is held is remarkable, and the umpire is central. Everyone wants a fair game---that said there is a lot of ambiguity and someone needs to control it. There are many different and cross purpose interests on the field and off that are managed visibly and not so visibly. The tv land spectacle, the s ...more
Scott Vout
I found this book to be amazingly wonderful.

I have been am amateur umpire for 21 years. I have had my share of fun and grief on local ball diamonds. I took up umpiring because I love the game of baseball but my skillset left me and I could not play the game at the level I wanted to play it but I wanted to stay around the game and just watching was not enough.

There are definitely days I wish I had never done it but most days it is an enjoyable outing.

This book brings back memories of watching the
Learned a lot about the world of umpires.

-the path to becoming an MLB ump stinks. Years of toil in the minors at 3K a month for 6 months a year in the lower levels. And you could be the top-rated Triple-A umpire, but if no slots open up in MLB after a few years, it's back to the bottom of the totem pole.

-but life as an MLB ump is great. Six figure income, a few weeks off during the year, few hours of work each night, $400+ per diem for expenses, etc.

-unions screw things up as much as they help.

Chris Conrey
Great look behind the masks of baseballs unsung arbiters. Any baseball lover will enjoy this book. Bonus - the audiobook is narrated by charley steiner
Daniel Palevski
'Inside baseball' at it's finest, when comes to umpiring. Highly detailed accounts of being a professional umpire, from the bottom of the profession to the Major Leagues. A bit tedious and depressing at times, especially when you hear about how tough the life is for those working in the minors or even trying to breakthrough into professional umpiring, but filled with gems of baseball stories you'd only get to hear about from behind the plate. Overall, a great baseball book and it definitely caus ...more
Bruce Weber, a NY Times reporter, gives a very compelling inside view of the world of baseball umpires. He does this by going to umpire school, becoming immersed in the umpire's world, and then persistently talking with the umpires over the course of a couple of years to where he gets to a point where he is telling their story.

This is a book for the baseball fan.... not for a Yankees fan, or a Red Sox fan or a Cardinals fan, although they, or the fan of any other team, may like the book. But thi
Here's what I am hoping to learn from this book:
Why would somebody want to become a baseball umpire?
What does it take to become an umpire?
How are umpires rated?
Who are the most respected umpires, and why?
How do they react to ire from fans or players?
How has the game of baseball changed for umpires? Is technology the only thing that has grown?
What does a typical game day entail for umpires? What do umpires do to prepare for a game?

I have learned a lot, but the key is how different the game is for
Vince Darcangelo
This review originally appeared in the ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS

As They See ’Em: A Fan’s Travels in the Land of Umpires

Nonfiction. By Bruce Weber. Scribner, $25. Grade: B

Book in a nutshell: For the past 25 years, Bruce Weber has graced the pages of the New York Times, writing obituaries, critiquing books and theater, discussing sports and explaining, once and for all, that he’s not that Bruce Weber (the big-shot photographer).
This Weber gets behind the plate with his new book, which, just in time for
As impossible dreams go, the odds for minor league umpires are significantly longer than those overcome by the 1967 Red Sox. With virtually no turnover at the major league level, even the most competent aspiring arbiters are generally dismissed after 8-10 grueling years climbing the ladder.

Their journey begins at umpire school, where Bruce Weber got to know many dreamers, as well as the more experienced umps on hand to train them. Weber, on assignment for the New York Times, visited the Jim Evan
I have to confess, I picked this book up mostly because it sounded vaguely interesting and I was starting to get a serious jones for the upcoming baseball season. My intention, more than anything, was to quickly skim through the book, reading only sections of interest and pick up a few interesting tidbits and maybe a funny anecdote or two.

What I ended up with was something else entirely. Weber does an excellent job of quickly making you realize that you don't know the first thing about umpiring.
Paul Hamilton
There is a key lesson within Bruce Weber's book about baseball umpires, As They See 'Em: The lesson is that no matter how avid a fan of baseball you may be, it is highly likely that you take for granted the arbiters of the game's rules. In fact, there is a telling portion near the beginning of the book where Weber carefully reveals that even lifelong fans of the game aren't all that familiar with the rules themselves.

Of course, because the baseball umpire is ubiquitous both in the pastime of the
Tom Gase
This book was okay. Anyone who reads this should have a new respect for umpires, but I already did. What they go through everyday is brutal when you think that the best umpires you rarely hear about because they do nothing wrong. I thought the research in this book was okay, but the book seemed to be all over the place. Some parts with the labor talks with umpires and all the stuff that occured in 1999 was just flat out boring. Still, there are some interesting things I learned in this book, suc ...more
If you've ever wondered what it's like being an umpire in professional baseball, this book will give you a good idea of the long hours and serious dedication required to make it to the major leagues. It's filled with lots of anecdotes from former and current umpires, so you definitely get an idea of the umpire mindset. They definitely are a determined lot (after reading what they have to go through to make it all the way, you'll understand this much better) who have an aura of "us v. them" when ...more
This is, in the purest sense, a book about baseball. Or rather, it's a book about baseball in its purest sense. Weber knows his audience and his subject equally well, conversing naturally and easily in the unique idiom of baseball. His style is a product of his subject; this isn't much better or worse, stylistically, than your average Sports Illustrated article. Lucky that the handling of the subject material could easily carry this book. It will make you appreciate the qualities that make baseb ...more
May 06, 2012 Linda rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Linda by: Author interview on Fresh Air -
Shelves: baseball, non-fiction
When Bruce Weber talks about traveling in "the Land of Umpires", he's not merely engaging in creative metaphor for effect. As his excellently detailed book ably demonstrates, the world of umpires and umpiring is something of a closed society, with much of its inner workings shrouded from public view, and like any closed society, what is known about it by outsiders is more mythology and misunderstanding than fact.

Weber's book is as much a guidebook to this world of umpires as it is a travelogue
An interesting look at life from the other side of the mask. Weber tells about the struggles through the minor leagues, the abuse from the fans, the average umpire's "us against them" mentality, and even some very interesting perspective from the umpires involved in some of the most memorable and controversial calls in history.
About halfway through the book, the focus turns to the business side of baseball and it's attitude towards umpires, including the ill-fated mass retirement in 1999. This w
Larry Hostetler
Very interesting book, well-written. An easy and a good read.

The book gives a complete description of what professional umpiring has been through in the last 30 years, and shows the pride that umpires take in their craft. It also shows the unfortunate side of how they are and have been treated (or ignored) by the baseball establishment which relies so much on their integrity to protect the game.

There is also a lot of information about the craft itself, and how umpiring changes from two- to four
Jerry Smith
Thoroughly entertaining account of what it takes to be an umpire in the pros. Basically spends a lot of time on what it takes to make it to the majors and the long (very long) odds of doing so.

What comes across is that umps are certainly no saints but are badly put upon by the league and generally fair game for criticism (sometimes even life threatening!) from fans and managers and pretty much anyone. The overriding question is: "Why would anyone want to do this?" Weber does an excellent job of
Mike Smith
It was a little hard for me to divorce my feelings about the professional umpire establishment from Weber's. For most of the book he takes a very pro-umpire standpoint, but I think his obvious favoritism and occasional mistakes in the details hurt the credibility of his arguments. However, I found the conclusion of his afterword redeeming. With the exception of his stance on replays overturning calls, I think he nailed how baseball needs to improve the quality of umpiring: better pay and trainin ...more
An absolutely fascinating book, which almost - but not quite - could stand alone as an interesting tale of a very weird profession without requiring a reader to be a diehard baseball fan. In the end, I think the details of calling strikes and balls and look back at famous plays and calls would drive you to stick this book at the back of a dusty shelf if you're not the kind of person who would willingly watch 20 hours of Ken Burns & friends reminiscing about ballplayers (err, yeah, that would ...more
Weber delves into the secretive, close-lipped, often overlooked fraternity of baseball umpires. Weber covers everything from the lives single-A umps, the politics between baseball owners and umpires, gender and race barriers that are still a huge factor, umpire school and discrepancies in the rule-book. All of this Weber does in a quick and witty journalistic style that makes this 430+ page book on umpires actually really, really fascinating.

In a way, Weber is a bit of an umpire apologist, defen
3.5 stars. I will never watch a baseball game the same way. I see a lot of similarities to how the NFL treats their cheerleaders compared to how all baseball leagues treat umpires. I really like how it makes the case on how using umpires keeps the game more human. They are right 90% of the time anyway. IR is good for critical plays but yeah quit yelling at the umps. That is shows no class. The section on the union disputes did drag though.
Very interesting and well-done. I'm a casual fan of baseball, but I never really gave much thought to the umpires, both as people and what they actually do. I have much more respect for them after reading this book.

Parts of the book were a bit too detailed. I was hoping the author would move on and cover something else. The last chapter especially should have been broken up into a couple of chapters, or some of the umpires' stories should have been left out. For the most part though it combined
A great insight to life as a professional umpire and the progression from the Minor Leagues to MLB.

If you have a significant other umpiring in professional baseball this is a must read.

Very cool book talks about the different minor league league cities, ball parks, and the behind the scenes look of life as an umpire.

If you umpire this is a book you can appreciate.
This was an eye-opener for me. Weber does a great job explaining all the different things that umpires need to do while working a game. A lot of stuff that I never realized, and will now cause me to try to actually watch their movement as gameplay takes place. It is rare to hear umpires speak candidly but you get a fair amount of that in here too, especially about the famous umpire walk-out that cost a bunch of umpires an early retirement and a loss of years on their pension. Weber's attempt to ...more
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