Three umpire bosses fired over blown 2009 playoffs calls

Major League Baseball, angry over the abundance of blown umpiring calls in the 2009 postseason, has fired three of its seven ump supervisors.

Marty Springstead, Rich Garcia and Jim McKean, each involved in umpiring for 40 or more years, were fired on Jan. 12. They received the news by telephone.

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“I was totally shocked,” said Springstead, who began his umpiring career in 1960. “Fifty years, and I get a four-minute phone call to say good-bye? They didn’t give us a lot of reasons.”

Randy Marsh and Charlie Reliford, two umpires who retired after last season, have been hired as replacements. Ed Montague, who retired after 34 years, also is in negotiations about a supervisor’s job.

“I’m sad about it, I’m going to miss it,” said Garcia, who umpired in 12 postseasons during his 25-year big-league career. “It’s certainly not what I wanted to happen. I can walk away proud of the work I’ve done.”

MLB did not cite a specific reason for the firings. Rob Manfred, MLB executive vice president, said, “The change in supervisors is part of our ongoing effort to make our organization as strong as possible.”

Yet, Springstead said it was directly related to the errant calls in last year’s postseason.

Crew chief Tim McClelland, along with veteran umpires Phil Cuzzi and C.B. Bucknor, each blew key calls during the American League division and championship series. They retained their jobs.

Umpire supervisors serve as liaisons between the umpires and MLB, recommending umpires for postseason, but not making final selections.

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