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Player-Manager Pete Rose Asks One Thing of Umpires, Consistency

September 21, 1986|United Press International

CHICAGO — Pete Rose has accumulated many impressive statistics during his quarter century of playing major-league baseball and one of those stats isn't likely to be found in the record books.

For Rose, after all, has seen a lot of umpires in his time. Some good, some bad, some in between.

Because he has played so long, he has gotten to know many arbiters. And Rose, who is an avid student of the game, has his own opinions on the subject of umpiring.

For the record, Rose never had the reputation as being a grumbler, even in his current role as a player-manager. He will pick and choose his spots to get into rhubarbs because, as a long-time veteran, he knows the futility of trying to show up an umpire.

The prime factor Rose looks for in an umpire is consistency.

"As a player, that's the one major thing you are looking for," Rose says. "If he calls it a high strike or a low strike, stay with it. Some umpires have different strike zones. The main thing is consistency."

Rose has a theory about the variations of the strike zone which he says depends on the size of the umpire.

"Some guys are much taller and they don't bend over as much so they might see a lower pitch better than a higher pitch," Rose notes. "In the American League, they called the higher pitch because they stood up with the outside chest protector on. It was common sense if you stand up straight you'll see higher pitches better than the low pitches."

Rose can only speak with authority on the National League but he thinks the strike zone has stayed constant.

"Sure, because a lot of the umpires have been around a long time," he says.

Strike zones aside, there are some umpires you know you can have your say with and you won't get thumbed out of a game, according to Rose. At a game in Chicago in late May, Rose had a heated argument with veteran Bruce Froemming. But Rose says even the amount of time you can argue varies with each umpire.

"You can have your say, you can beef with him. After you have your say, go take a hike. You can stand with a guy like Froemming for five minutes and have your say, but don't go back to the dugout and start screaming at him again," Rose says.

Regarding retired umpires, several stand out in the future Hall-of-Famer's mind as being both fair and consistent.

"I always liked Al Barlick. He works very hard, always did. Shag Crawford, Augie Donatelli, they were good," he says. "Jocko Conlan. He used to sing to me at second base."

What kind of singing voice did Conlan have?

"I guess about a B-plus after A," he says.

Rose concedes the umpires when he broke in back in the early 1960s did not face the same type of pressures as the umpires of the mid 1980s face. There wasn't the media exposure back in 1960 as there is today and the sophisticated electronic replays were just in their infancy when Rose broke into the major leagues with the Cincinnati Reds.

"I don't think the umpires back in them days were under the microscope that they are today," Rose says. "You know you didn't have as many instant replays and there wasn't as much television."

Rose believes umpires are wary of the eye of the camera in baseball today.

"I think they are aware of it. There is a lot of pressure on them. I think if you just bare out what they do you will realize they do a good job," Rose adds.

Since adding the title of manager, Rose has discovered his perception of the umpires has changed somewhat from the days when he was strictly a player.

"It's the hardest part of my job. I have trouble arguing with the umpires, especially in Cincinnati where we are so close to first base," he says. "I'm the manager of the team and the guy has a play at first and he looks out to me and the umpire calls him out. And the guys start arguing. As a manager, I have to go out there but I have a tough time arguing with a guy if I think he's right."

That doesn't mean Rose doesn't like to, or won't argue.

"I argued when I think I am right," Rose says. "The umps aren't always right. They are human. The guy in the World Series (Don Denkinger) proved that, didn't he?"

If they are human, they do make mistakes. Rose says there is little any player or manager can do if he goes out and argues a call and the umpire admits an error.

"I often wonder you see the big rhubarbs. If I go out as a manager and start arguing with a guy about a second-base call and the umpire looks to me and says 'Pete, I missed the call,' well, I can't say another word to him. But, they never do that."

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