Desiree Koh's Reviews > As They See 'Em: A Fan's Travels in the Land of Umpires

As They See 'Em by Bruce Weber
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Jul 18, 09

bookshelves: playball
Read in July, 2009

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 himself down next to me, the fellow fan, and he shares these chronicles of professional umpiring, from school minion to Major League commandeer. It's really an amazing account - as someone with Little League and recreational softball umpiring experience, I'm with the boys in blue. It's a tough job, and although someone has to do it (as well as enjoy pro athlete-level perks at the highest level), not everyone can. Here's where baseball can easily slip into the rhetoric, but it's true - I don't think sports judging can get any harder than with this game, with on-field coordination, snap decisions and a million rules enforced on every play. And to that, add pomp, aplomb and authority.

I learned a lot about professional umpiring and through that, the evolution of baseball and the corporate conglomerate it is today. It's a fantastic insight into living the game and the life of the game - most want to see it from the perspective of the players, coaches and even general managers but the honest truth is, no one sees it all better than the guy behind the face mask.
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