23 March 2015

some recent umpire initial memorials

it seems to me that umpires are showing up on cards less and less these days.  i don't know if it has anything to do with a lawsuit that i recall from the 90's wherein one umpire sued upper deck for using his likeness in a photo for a card without his authorization (anyone remember the specifics of this?).  more recently, of course, we have seen umpires photoshopped out of cards altogether, or at least all but a leg.  there's an umpire in the background of this 2013 topps erick aybar card
which also features ryan doumit at target field.  in fact, the umpire in the photo is alfonso marquez, who wears number 72 seen on his throat protector.  most interesting to me, however, is that marquez is also wearing a memorial patch.

former umpires marty springstead and harry wendelstedt both passed away in the early months of 2012 (springstead in january and wendelstedt in march), and the umpires decided to honor them by wearing patches with their initials during the 2012 season.  here's a usa today photo of angel hernandez with the two patches
unfortunately, the best example i have of these memorials on a card is this 2013 topps chrome yu darvish 1972 insert
with the umpire's arm and patches in the background.  it's like the bigfoot photo.

in august of 2013, umpire frank pulli passed away.  a few months later, as the baseball postseason was getting underway, umpire wally bell died. both umpires were honored with memorial patches, which are seen on the sleeves of the 2013 world series umpiring crew in the getty images photo below
the 'fp' patch for pulli was worn during the last couple months of the 2013 regular season, and the 'wb' patch for bell was carried over into the 2014 season.  it is visible on the left sleeve of the umpire behind nelson cruz on his 2014 topps chrome refractor card
another umpire memorial from a postseason was the charlie williams patch/sticker worn by the umpires during the 2005 world series.  williams passed away in september of 2005. i don't have a card featuring the memorial, but it is visiible on three of the umpires in this getty images photo
joe west, the home plate umpire, put it on his chest protector.

i agree with the notion that, if an umpire is doing their job well, they are unnoticed.  i'd still like to see them on a baseball card once in a while.

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