Can you name any retired Major League baseball players who have gone on to become umpires?
Jocko Conlan and Frank Secory come to mind. This was much more common when player salaries were lower and players had to make a living after their playing days. I don’t believe any of today’s umpires played in the major leagues. I’d be interested in knowing who was the last umpire to do so.
After a brief career as a major-league reliever, Bill Kunkel became an umpire. One year before Bill died, he worked a spring training game in which son Jeff played for the Texas Rangers.
In the 19th Century, a lot of the umpires were former players. The practice became less common in the 20th Century. It’s pretty much gotten to the point where it’s a job that you’ve got to start when you’re very long. Most MLB umpires have been in the minors for several years and about the only thing worse than the life of a minor league player is the life of a minor league umpire.
BobT has got it. In the excellent baseball oral history The Glory of Their Times, I remember Hall of Fame Tiger outfielder Sam Crawford remarking on his brief foray into umpiring after retiring. “It’s a lonely life”, he recalled, “so I quit it.”
That’s an odd requirement. Do umpires have duties I don’t know about?
It’s just that the jobs at the big league level are scarce and they want you to have a fair amount of experience before you get to the big league level.
If you’re say, 30, when you start off, you may be doing 10 years in the low minors before you even get the job as a AAA/vacation fill-in. And the minor leagues pay poorly. So you are pretty much taking a big risk in your career.