Henry Charles “Shag” Crawford was kind enough to reply to a letter I sent him years ago. Although he passed away in 2007 at age 90, I can’t forget the important lesson his words imparted:
Great umpires love the game.
Crawford wrote me:
“Mickey Cochrane and Al Lopez were great receivers with excellent arms. The two gentlemen I mention were playing when I was a young lad attending ball games in Philadelphia. They impressed me the most. I did not see anyone to surpass them during my baseball life.
Del Crandall impressed me the most. He was an excellent caller of pitches and was an excellent field leader.
I must say catchers in the big leagues, on the whole, are not much for gabbing behind the plate. Occasionally, a joke or two may transpire between a catcher and the hitter. Usually, the hitter would be the initiator.”
Crawford’s fearless work behind the plate makes more sense when you learn of his World War II service. Maybe, his middle initial of “C” stood for “courage.”