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

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

ISBN13: 9780743294119
ISBN10: 0743294114
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 conducted in a manner that is clean, crisp, and true. Bruce Weber, a New York Times reporter, not only interviewed dozens of professional umpires but entered their world, trained to become an umpire, and then spent a season working games from Little League to big league spring training.

As They See 'Em is Weber's entertaining account of this experience as well as a lively exploration of what amounts to an eccentric secret society, with its own customs, its own rituals, its own colorful vocabulary. (Know what a "whacker" is? A "pole bender"? "Rat cheese"? Think you could "strap it on" or "take the stick"?) He explains the arcane set of rules by which umps work and details the exasperating, tortuous path that allows only a select few to graduate from the minor leagues to the majors. He describes what it's like to work in a ballpark where not only the fans but the players, the managers and coaches, the announcers, the team owners, and even the league presidents, resent them — and vice versa. And he asks, quite sensibly, why anyone would do a job that offers the chance to earn only blame and never credit.

Weber reveals how umps are tutored to work behind the plate, what they learn to watch for on the bases, and how proper positioning for every imaginable situation on the field is drilled into them. He describes how they're counseled to respond — or not — to managers who are screaming at them from inches away with purposeful inanity, and tells us exactly which "magic" words result in an automatic ejection. Writing with deep knowledge of and affection for baseball, he delves into such questions as: Why isn't every strike created equal? Is the ump part of the game or outside of it? Why doesn't a tie go to the runner? And what do umps and managers say to each other during an argument, really?

In addition to professional umpires, Weber spoke to current and former players including Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Tom Glavine, Barry Zito, Paul Lo Duca, Kenny Lofton, Ron Darling, and Robin Yount, as well as former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent, Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox, Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland, and many others in the professional game. He attended the 2006 and 2007 World Series, interviewing the umpire crews who called those games and who spoke candidly about the pressure of being scrutinized by millions — maybe billions! — of fans around the world, all of them armed with television's slo-mo, hi-def instant replay. As fans know, in 2008, a rash of miscalled home run balls led baseball, for the first time, to use replay to help big league umps make their decisions.Weber discusses these events and the umpires' surprising reaction to them.

Packed with fascinating reportage that reveals the game as never before and answers the kinds of questions that fans, exasperated by the clichés of conventional sports commentary, pose to themselves around the television set, Bruce Weber's As They See 'Em is a towering grand slam.

Review:

"In a no-holds-barred insider examination of the private world of baseball umpires, both minor and major leagues, Weber, a New York Times reporter, dives into the rough basic training school for the men who call balls and strikes in this irresistible book. As a 52-year-old student umpire, the author dons the mask and learns the fundamentals, while spending almost three years visiting baseball venues across the country, as well as interviewing former umpires, players and coaches. Many candidates dream of making it to the majors, as about 100,000 amateur baseball umpires call games in the U.S., Weber writes, but only 68 pro umpires make it to the big show. Baseball fans will love the insightful, richly textured account of Weber trying to master the plate stance, monitoring each pitch and maintaining a proper strike zone in a physically demanding occupation. However, his book lifts heads-and-shoulders above other baseball tomes by putting a funny, surprising treasury of anecdotes from the sport at its entertaining core." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"A wonderfully detailed look at the craft of umpiring." Jim Bouton, New York Times Book Review

Synopsis:

In the bestselling tradition of George Plimpton's "Paper Lion, As They See Em" gets down, dirty, and loud with professional baseball umpires--granting readers unprecedented access to the hidden game inside America's favorite pastime.

About the Author

Bruce Weber, a reporter for the New York Times, began his career in publishing as a fiction editor at Esquire. His first piece for the Times was a profile of Raymond Carver for the Sunday magazine in 1983, and he has been on staff at the newspaper since 1986 as an editor, metro reporter, national cultural correspondent, theater columnist and theater critic, among other things. His writing about baseball includes three cover stories for the Times Magazine (for whom he has also profiled E. L. Doctorow, Martin Cruz Smith, the Harvard Admissions Department, the New York Public Library and Cher) and he has regularly contributed first-person essays and participatory features to the paper. These include accounts of several bicycle journeys (from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City and from San Francisco to New York City, among them); of a walk the length of Broadway, from Yonkers to the Battery; of canoeing down the Hudson; of skating on all of New York City's skating rinks and of batting in all of New York City's batting cages. 

He has written for Sports Illustrated, Sport, Esquire, Manhattan Inc., Vogue, Mademoiselle, Redbook, Harpers' Bazaar, the Hartford Courant and the St. Petersburg Times. He is the author, with the dancer Savion Glover, of Savion! My Life in Tap (William Morrow, 2000), and the editor of Look Who's Talking: An Anthology of Voices in the Modern American Short Story (Washington Square Press, 1986).

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

itpdx, July 27, 2009 (view all comments by itpdx)
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 the recent history the umpire unions and labor disputes, giving us a feel for recent changes in the umpire's job. He explains and illustrates the skills that umpires need and the career path that they have to take to get to the majors. From minor league umpires, in their first season, facing a broken-down car on the way to Spokane to umpires coping with dressing room chaos at the World Series. I really enjoyed his tales of the two women umpires who have come closest to the major leagues and how they didn't make it, somehow. It appears that the powers that run professional baseball aren't willing to go there, yet.

Through his interviews, Weber gives us an inkling of what it is like to umpire the World Series or be the plate ump for a perfect game.

I have been to three major league games in the past three years (bringing my lifetime total MLB games to four) and I find that I enjoy the ambiance of a baseball stadium on a pleasant summer evening, but I do need help from my companions understanding some of the things that happen on the field. But I am unable to watch baseball on TV--it does not hold my interest. But thanks to this fascinating book, I know that the next game that I watch, I will be watching the umpires almost as much as the players.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780743294119
Publisher:
Scribner Book Company
Subject:
Baseball - General
Author:
Weber, Bruce
Subject:
Baseball
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Baseball - Essays & Writings
Subject:
Baseball -- Umpiring -- United States.
Subject:
Baseball umpires -- United States.
Subject:
Sports and Fitness-Baseball General
Publication Date:
20090331
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

Related Subjects

Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Baseball » General

As They See 'em: A Fan's Travels in the Land of Umpires
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 352 pages Scribner - English 9780743294119 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In a no-holds-barred insider examination of the private world of baseball umpires, both minor and major leagues, Weber, a New York Times reporter, dives into the rough basic training school for the men who call balls and strikes in this irresistible book. As a 52-year-old student umpire, the author dons the mask and learns the fundamentals, while spending almost three years visiting baseball venues across the country, as well as interviewing former umpires, players and coaches. Many candidates dream of making it to the majors, as about 100,000 amateur baseball umpires call games in the U.S., Weber writes, but only 68 pro umpires make it to the big show. Baseball fans will love the insightful, richly textured account of Weber trying to master the plate stance, monitoring each pitch and maintaining a proper strike zone in a physically demanding occupation. However, his book lifts heads-and-shoulders above other baseball tomes by putting a funny, surprising treasury of anecdotes from the sport at its entertaining core." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "A wonderfully detailed look at the craft of umpiring."
"Synopsis" by , In the bestselling tradition of George Plimpton's "Paper Lion, As They See Em" gets down, dirty, and loud with professional baseball umpires--granting readers unprecedented access to the hidden game inside America's favorite pastime.
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