Many young people dream of being in the major leagues, Few, however, consider getting there as an umpire such as Al Clark. This book has some things I liked and some that I didn’t. Let’s jump in.
Clark was there. He was there for when Ripken broke the consecutive game streak. He was on the field when Nolan Ryan pitched one of his no-hitters. Clark umpire All-Star games and several World Series games. He met the many of the characters of the game. He ejected Earl Weaver, Frank Robinson and many more managers such as Bily Martin. He was working in Oakland for the famous “earthquake” series.
Clark was the first Jewish umpire in the major leagues and may have been the first umpire to eject his own father from an official’s dressing room. He has been involved in many interesting games and situations in baseball.
One thing that is clear in this book from Al Clark is that he is not ready to admit any wrongdoing. Not just on the field where he may have missed a call at first base because he slipped in the mud and didn’t get a good look at a play but his decision to use a major league credit card to take his wife with him. He gives us the line that he forgot to mention it to the authorities in major league baseball. It got him fired a full year and a half before his expected retirement.
He isn’t contrite when he goes to prison for faking game-used baseballs with autographs from games of interest that he umpired. He was caught and convicted for this crime and Clark never admits to the crime. He would rather tell the world how tough he was in prison. The attitude prevails throughout the book that it was about Al Clark and no one else in his world.
The book has some interesting stories that you won’t hear from players as he takes us inside the locker room. We get privy to conversations between umpire about the game. Overall, the book has some baseball qualities and isn’t bad to read.
I would like to thank the University of Nebraska Publishing for the copy of the book for this review.
About the Authors:
Al Clark was a professional umpire for thirty years and worked more than three thousand games in his career. Those games included two All-Star games, seven playoff games and two World Series.
Dan Schlossberg is a former AP sportswriter and author or coauthor of more than thirty baseball books. A few of them are Designated Hebrew: The Ron Bloomberg Story and Making Airwaves: 60 Years at Milo’s Microphone.