I’m very pro-umpire. I support the profession, and I respect not just major league umpires, but all umpires. I work as a college baseball umpire in my hometown, and that is nothing compared to what MLB umps go through. No matter the level, you’re in a brotherhood, a fraternity of sorts, with other umpires. When you lose one of your brothers, it hurts like crazy.
Wally Bell was a 21-year veteran umpire. He was 48. Image: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
By now we have all unfortunately learned of the passing of MLB umpire Wally Bell. Joe Torre and veteran umpire Gerry Davis addressed the media in a video that honestly hurts to watch. Joe West, who is the President of the World Umpire Association said:
"Wally was a great umpire, a great partner and a great friend. The umpiring community is deeply saddened by this tragic loss. He will be sorely missed by many."
I have personally met both Gerry Davis and Joe West, and although both are quite stoic, they expressed major sadness from the bad news.
I have attended umpire schools and I have met many major league umpires. I could see their comradery, love, and respect for each other. It was very cool. I attended the series when the Arizona Diamondbacks were at Coors Field playing the Rockies this year, and Wally Bell worked the games. I believe he was the interim chief on this particular crew. It’s crazy to think that was only a couple months ago, where Wally was healthy and active.
It’s very easy to not like umpires. They make a call that goes against your team–big deal! It’s easy to yell and scream at the men in black or blue, but the profanity takes a backseat today. Hell, baseball takes a backseat today–albeit temporarily. I thought the moments of silence were really cool today. It was an example of a baseball family gathering together to honor one of their own. The NLCS umpires claim that Wally would have been proud of them for being a family and working the game. I believe that.
I’ve made jokes about Wally before because his mask looked so small that it hardly covered his face. Those jokes don’t seem so funny anymore. The passing of Bell was very strange for me because I am very interested in umpires and I like reading their bio’s, resumes, etc. I’m not much of a praying man, but Wally and his family are certainly in my thoughts this week.
We have a lot of things to be happy about in our lives, so let’s go ahead and be happy.