Difference between an Umpire and Referee

Why are the ref’s in baseball called umpires as opposed to most other sport’s referees? How did this come about? I was really surprised to not find this when I was searching the archives.

From dictionary.com


yes, but why is it called one thing in baseball and another thing in virtually all other (American) sports?

Umm… IIRC cricket predated baseball and used "umpires. Some of the first organized games were played on “cricket grounds” by the Knickerbockers in New York

Alright, I just didn’t know if there was some story or reason why it is referee in basketball and umpire in baseball.

Other “gentleman’s” games (which baseball was originally), of the time like polo, also used an “umpire” so it’s not stretch as to why gentleman baseball players would have adopted the word.

On the flip side how did the word “referee” develop?

It is not uncommon to have a referee in American (and I presume English) law. Under certain circumstances a judge will refer a matter or part of a matter out to a non-judge for a decision or for a report. The non-judge to which the matter is referred may be known as a referee (in the federal courts, her or she would be called a special master). Before the bankruptcy law revision in 1978, the officers that we now know as bankruptcy judges had been known as “referees in bankruptcy” for almost a century (because the federal district courts had referred bankruptcy matters to them).

As an example, in a matter I am working on, the defendant has alleged that he was not properly served with the summons. The judge in the case has ordered that we have a “traverse” hearing to determine whether he has been served. Instead of holding the traverse himself, the judge has directed that we have the hearing before a referee, who will report his or her findings back to the judge.

In any event, I would speculate that the term “referee” in sport springs from the legal meaning of someone to whom a matter is referred for an impartial decision.

To further confuse the OP, one of the officials in American football is called “umpire”. He is the guy who lines up with the linebackers and gets run over a lot. He has the primary responsibility for spotting the ball and calling holding penalties on offensive lineman. The head official of a football crew is called “referee” and he wears a white hat.

And in college basketball, the head of the officials is called “referee” and the other two are “umpires”. (The NBA dropped this terminology.)