Ryczek: A night on the town lands the men in blue in hot water

From SABR member Bill Ryczek at The National Pastime Museum on September 27, 2017:

Ed Runge was the patriarch of the only family to produce three generations of Major League umpires. He was an American League arbiter from 1954 through 1970, his son Paul worked in the National League from 1973 through 1997, and Paul’s son Brian was a Major League umpire from 1999 through 2012.

In his day, Ed was considered one of the top umpires in the league, particularly behind the plate, where he was rated the best at calling balls and strikes by American League managers and coaches from 1959 to 1961. Runge had perhaps the largest strike zone in the Major Leagues, which endeared him to pitchers, but even the hitters appreciated his consistency. According to Jim Bouton in Ball Four, the only time Runge’s strike zone changed was if a player did something to irritate him. If a hitter got on Runge’s nerves, Bouton said, the strikes didn’t have to be that good.

Bill McKinley—who, like his presidential namesake, was from Ohio—was an American League umpire from 1946 through 1965, known for being the target of the classic remark, “They shot the wrong McKinley,” which players would shout at him from the bench when he made a close call against their team. McKinley wanted to be a ballplayer, but after graduating from high school, he worked in his brother’s meat market. After failing a minor league tryout, he went to one of the earliest umpire academies.

Runge and McKinley were on the same crew in 1960, and on Friday, August 26, they worked a twi-night doubleheader between the Orioles and Kansas City Athletics at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium.

Read the full article here: https://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/night-town-lands-men-blue-hot-water

Originally published: September 27, 2017. Last Updated: September 27, 2017.