Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Umpire

Before I blast the bum(s), let me go into the history of baseball's bee-yotch!

Red Smith is acredited with a quote, 'Ninety feet between home plate and first base may be the closest man has ever come to perfection.' This hints at the dimensions of this great game of baseball. But it doesn't say anything about those whose job it is on the baseball diamond to see that fair play is executed at all times.

The origin of the word umpire came from the Old French, nonper (from non+per, "equal), meaning "one who is requested to act as arbiter of dispute between two people," or that the arbiter is not paired with anyone in the dispute.

In Middle English, the earliest form of this shows up as noumper around the year 1350 and the earliest version without the n shows up as ownpere, a variant spelling in Middle English, circa 1440.

The n was lost after it was written (in 1426-1427) as a noounpier with the a being the indefinite article. The leading n became attached to the article, changing it to an Oumper around 1475; this sort of linguistic shift is called a juncture loss. Thus today we say "an umpire" versus "a numpire."

(This little tidbit was discovered on Wikipedia.)

I want to research the umpire's evolution into the game of baseball to further understand their importance in the game today, especially since the men in blue come off mostly as attitudes-in-need-of-adjustment.

Somewhere between first installing umpires and today's brand of baseball much has been lost as to their purpose on the field. In doing this research I am constantly seeing examples of why rules were put into place and how the umpire is there to see to it that they are properly instituted. But today's arbiter seems to play favorites or agitate the players by possessing a bad attitude that it takes away from the game.

Example: in 1895 the Infield fly rule was designed to promote fair play. What sort of thing was happening beforehand and what kinds of things happened after.

I'm not sure I can discover all the changes and why they were implemented but I'll sure try.
It's really so I can better understand the nonsense I see from all officials in all sports. How if you say the slightest thing against them you get fined but they don't have the same punishment, even if they instigated the actions of the players and or coaches.

This will be an on-going thing for me during the 2008 major league baseball season.

If anyone has memories of any happenings involving the umpire please do not hesitate to share your experience with us at the ChaChaBowl.


Kevin Marquez