If you know an umpire’s name, he’s probably doing something wrong. Had every umpire behaved himself on Sunday, I would have never known who called the game. Instead, third base umpire John Hirschbeck decided to insert himself into the story by throwing a hissy fit like a child and ejecting Bryce Harper in the first inning.
Hirschbeck became the most famous umpire in America in 1996 after getting spit on by Roberto Alomar following an argument about ball and strikes. Above, you’ll see current Nationals manager Davey Johnson trying to keep his all-star second baseman out of trouble. I won’t get into a lengthy history of that episode, but here is a link to a 1996 Sports Illustrated story by Tim Kirkjian. Also, here is a story about John Hirschbeck by Lisa Pollak of the Baltimore Sun which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997. Finally, here is a 2000 story about how Alomar and Hirschbeck eventually became friends.
Much of John Hirschbeck’s story is tragic. He is an admirable man is many ways. But today he’s a dick who decided to make the whole game about him. I’ll use the cliche: nobody pays money to watch you ump.
Perhaps Bryce Harper can use this Sports Illustrated cover as motivation.