Monday, June 05, 2006

The Plump Ump

Sad story in the Philadelphia Inquirer today (which I initially spotted in Deadspin).

It would seem that Philly native and former umpire Eric Gregg (affectionately known as "the Plump Ump") is in critical condition after a massive stroke. He was always a fan favorite due to his sizeable girth and equally big smile.

He lost his job, like many others, after the umpire walkout in 1999. He worked the concession stand at Chickie and Pete's in Citizens Bank Park the last couple years, obviously in an effort to stay close to the game. Fans of the infamous Philadelphia Wing Bowl will also recognize Gregg: he was the commissioner of the Bowl for 13 years.

By all accounts he is a man with a great sense of humor (I guess you'd have to be to survive 23 years of umpiring), who took the loss of his job very hard.

Here's hoping he doesn't lose more than that.

EDIT: Sadly, Eric Gregg passed away last night.

In a season with strike zones the size of postage stamps, baseball needs umpires like him more than ever.

And in a time where cynicism and uncertainty reign, the world needs men like him more than ever.

Former Phillies pitcher Terry Mulholland, who pitched a no-hitter with Gregg behind the plate, shared some thoughts about the umpire.

I also managed to unearth an interview with Mr. Gregg from 1999, given during the umpiring negotiations... just before he lost the job he loved.

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