Ump Shag Crawford Inspires

I told his story in 2010. The Shag Crawford tale bears repeating.

I have not focused enough on umpires in my recent letters. They’ve seen it all.

And there will be more Doug Harveys, more umps who make the Hall of Fame.

Most of all, I welcome these colorful characters. The Men In Blue could be blue.

I remember a SABR member once telling that he sent a questionnaire to Jocko Conlan. He received a HOF plaque postcard back, personalized to his name, with “Go To Hell, Best Wishes, Jocko Conlan.”

Wanting to tap my Iowa roots, I selected Don Denkinger as the next ump to get my letter. He’s in the 2012 Allen & Ginter set. I asked him about that and other topics.

Stay tuned…

Readers: what living ex-umps would you like to hear from most?

Pitcher Gary Kroll ‘Balks’ At Ump Jocko Conlan

Don’t believe everything you read.

Oops! I mean, don’t believe what you read ELSEWHERE.

In the book The Ballplayers, pitcher Gary Kroll suffers from a biased bio note:

“As a nervous ML rookie, however, he committed a league-leading four balks in just 24 innings.”

Hmmm…I wrote to Kroll, wanting his side of the story. He replied with some juicy insights, including:

“I was trying to use a move that Art Mahaffey used with great success, but it didn’t work too good for me. Jocko Conlan was one of the umps that called a balk on me.

I said, ‘Jocko, Drysdale (Don) uses the same move and you don’t call a balk on him.’

He said, ‘Yeah, but he does it faster.’

What!!! I think his name being Drysdale had something to do with him getting away with it.”

I noted Kroll beat future Hall of Famer on April 18, 1965. Before a home Shea Stadium crowd, Kroll yielded just four hits while getting two of his own. His memories?

“It was raining and I was better than Gaylord that day, even though he had Mays and McCovey on his team. he tried to bust a couple of fastballs by me and I turned them around.”

Kroll topped 300 strikeouts in one minor league season. He recalls his first K in the majors with an ironic footnote:

“Gordon Richardson with the Cardinals. The same Gordon Richardson that teamed up with me to no-hit the Pirates in the spring of ’65. Go to website.”

I closed my letter, stating:

“My ‘career’ ended in Little League. However, I can close my eyes and I’m back on the field again — like it was yesterday.”

Kroll wrote…

“I know what you mean. So do I!”

Thanks to for the game account!

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