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?

Recalling Shag Crawford, Umpire, WWII Vet

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.”

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