Harkins: That’s why the lady is an ump

From Deborah Harkins at Women’s Voices For Change on May 1, 2012, on SABR member Perry Barber:

She was a pretty, blonde, petite, well-bred, soft-spoken singer/songwriter, reared to be “charming, witty, a good companion and a good conversationalist.”

That training, though, gets you nowhere on the baseball field. Perry Barber, 58, found that out the day she umpired her first Little League game more than three decades ago. She was awful—“so awful,” she admits, “that people watching the game were ready to crucify me.” Still, this ex-debutante, who came out, in the old-fashioned sense of the phrase, at the Plaza and the Waldorf Astoria, was shocked at the noxious response to her wretched calls. “Letters were written to the local paper,” she laments. One of the headlines was Umpire Doesn’t Know the Strike Zone.

“It was true, all true,” she says, laughing. “Still, I thought, ‘Wow, people usually think I’m fabulous; they love me. These people think I’m awful and they hate me.’ I was performing a public service . . . why were they so rude to me?” It was a puzzle she wanted to solve.

Barber, a native New Yorker, has called games during a 32-year career—more than twice as long as any other professional woman umpire. That is her triumph, for she was told at 28, fresh out of umpire school, that she was already “too old” for pro baseball. Umpiring has been her passion since her late twenties, when baseball books seduced her into the game, and she means to continue umping as long as her strength and her legs hold up—and goddess help any bureaucrat who tries to keep her out of the game.

Read the full article here: http://womensvoicesforchange.org/thats-why-the-lady-is-an-ump.htm

Originally published: May 1, 2012. Last Updated: May 1, 2012.