As They See 'Em
A Fan's Travels in the Land of Umpires
By Bruce Weber
(Scribner, Paperback, 9780743294133, 368pp.)
Publication Date: March 16, 2010
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MILLIONS OF AMERICAN BASEBALL FANS KNOW, WITH ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY, that umpires are simply overpaid galoots who are doing an easy job badly. Millions of American baseball fans are wrong.
As They See ’Em is an insider’s look at the largely unknown world of professional umpires, the small group of men (and the very occasional woman) who make sure America’s favorite pastime is conducted in a manner that is clean, crisp, and true. Bruce Weber, a New York Times reporter, not only interviewed dozens of professional umpires but entered their world, trained to become an umpire, then spent a season working games from Little League to big league spring training. As They See ’Em is Weber’s entertaining account of this experience as well as a lively exploration of what amounts to an eccentric secret society, with its own customs, its own rituals, its own colorful vocabulary. Writing with deep knowledge of and affection for baseball, he delves into such questions as: Why isn’t every strike created equal? Is the ump part of the game or outside of it? Why doesn’t a tie go to the runner? And what do umps and managers say to each other during an argument, really?
Packed with fascinating reportage that reveals the game as never before and answers the kinds of questions that fans, exasperated by the clichés of conventional sports commentary, pose to themselves around the television set, Bruce Weber’s As They See ’Em is a towering grand slam.
Bruce Weber, a reporter for The New York Times, began his career in publishing as a fiction editor at Esquire. He has been on staff at the newspaper since 1986 as an editor, metro reporter, national cultural correspondent, theater columnist and critic, among other things, and has regularly contributed first-person essays and participatory features to the paper. He has written for numerous publications and is the coauthor (with the dancer Savion Glover) of Savion! My Life in Tap and the editor of Look Who's Talking: An Anthology of Voices in the Modern American Short Story.
To understand what it takes to be a professional umpire, journalist Bruce Weber became one himself. His adventures with fans, players and other umps are described in his book, As They See 'Em. More at NPR.org
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"Bruce Weber's As They See 'Em: A Fan's Travels in the Land of Umpires might be the most original piece of reportage on the baseball front in years..." -- BookPage
"A wonderfully detailed look at the craft of umpiring...I never realized what it takes to be an umpire." -- Jim Bouton, author of Ball Four, in The New York Times Book Review.
"Hugely entertaining...makes you see baseball in a whole different way." -- Allen Barra, author of Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee
"Sympathetic, thoughtful, highly engaging...an outstanding book that demands a place on any sports shelf." -- Booklist, starred review
"Irresistible...[an] insightful, richly textured account." -- Publishers Weekly
"Thorough research, crackerjack reporting, pinpoint control." -- Kirkus Reviews