Don't forget Froemming
September, 18, 2007
In the old days, umpires were considered major figures of the game. In the 1940s and '50s, you couldn't open an issue of Baseball Digest without running across a story told by, or about, longtime American League umpire Billy Evans. Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem was probably as famous as all but the most famous National Leaguers of his time. These days, though, to be a famous umpire you probably have to be gay, fat or female. Not that there's anything wrong with any of those things. I'm just saying, it's different now (for theories about why, let's adjourn to the comments section, below). All of which is my roundabout way of saying that if this were the 1950s or '60s, Bruce Froemming would be well-known to baseball fans everywhere. As it is, nobody but us diehards knows that Froemming is about to retire after 37 seasons in the majors, which ties Klem for the major league record. I suppose if Froemming were a player, MLB would bring him back for one game next season. Instead, he's just going to fade away, at least in the mainstream media, which doesn't have much time these days for anybody who doesn't hit 40 homers, or win 20 games, or make an eight-figure salary (not that I'm bitter or anything). Fortunately, we have the Web, which includes (among a few other things) Retrosheet's page devoted to Froemming; Chris Jaffe's outstanding look back at Froemming's amazing career; and ESPN's upcoming "Outside the Lines" on Froemming. I wish Froemming a happy retirement, but I hope he finds the time to write his memoir. The guy's been on the field for roughly one-third of modern baseball history. I have to think he's got some stories to tell.