Top 100 Baseball Blog

Monday, November 25, 2019

Minor League Baseball and Octagon Announce Strategic Media Content Partnership

Multi-tiered approach designed to drive deeper fan engagement, enhance media distribution offerings 
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. and STAMFORD, Conn., Nov. 25, 2019 — Minor League Baseball™ (MiLB™) today announced it has selected Octagon, the leading international sports marketing and media agency, to develop a long-term content, media and distribution strategy for the organization.    

The three-phase partnership includes conducting in-depth digital fan research and current digital platform analysis, developing a media content strategy and leading a targeted media rights distribution strategy. With the first two phases complete, MiLB and Octagon are now focused on approaching the marketplace to identify, secure and enhance new media distribution opportunities. “The media landscape is evolving quickly. Content rules the day and serves as the hook to current and next-generation fans,” said David Wright, chief marketing and commercial officer of Minor League Baseball. “We are committed to staying ahead of the content curve and investing in the necessary resources to best position MiLB to drive meaningful fan engagement and overall growth in a hyper-competitive space.” 

“There is no U.S. sports property comparable to Minor League Baseball. With more than 6,700 games and 16,000 hours of live content annually available to fans, MiLB’s reach and live content breadth is in a league of its own,” said Daniel Cohen, Octagon SVP, Global Media Rights Consulting Division. “We look forward to engaging with new media and technologies, to push the envelope on distribution and consumption that connects the next generation of fans with the stars of tomorrow playing in Minor League Baseball.” 

“Our fans are the lifeblood of our organization, and we must reach them both in and outside of the ballpark in ways that enrich their experience, amplify memorable moments and capture MiLB’s unique spirit,” said Katie Davison, MiLB’s senior vice president of digital strategy & business development. “Our vast network of teams, athletes and fans gives us immense storytelling potential, and we’re certain Octagon can help us bring these stories to life for fans and new audiences alike.” 

With a focus on technology, diversity and inclusion, and community impact, MiLB has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years across key business areas, including digital consumption, licensed merchandise sales, ballpark attendance and strategic national partnerships.  A continued commitment to drive deeper engagement with next-generation fans, coupled with MiLB’s vast national footprint (covering 81% of the U.S. population) and compelling storylines, MiLB is uniquely positioned for growth as it considers the changing patterns of how fans consume media.   

Some of Minor League Baseball’s areas of recent advancement include: 

• Digital Technology o Activating a network of 174 websites and 135+ online stores, and streaming nearly 6,700 games annually on MiLB.TV representing more than 16,000 hours of live content o Relaunching a new e-commerce platform  o Building the largest in-venue digitally connected network in sports and entertainment with ISM Connect who is investing more than $10 million across 50 MiLB ballparks o First sports property to provide fans with a bilingual chat bot via Satisfi Labs for Copa de la Diversión 

 • Ballpark Attendance and Licensed Merchandise Sales o A nearly 3% increase in overall attendance in 2019 vs. 2018 o A record in overall licensed merchandise sales of nearly $74 million across all 160 teams in 2018 

 • Diversity and Inclusion o Creating and maintaining the highly-successful Copa de la Diversión initiative to authentically engage with U.S. Hispanic fans and communities (92 teams in 2020)  
          o Building the largest LGBTQ+ initiative in sports and entertainment with MiLB Pride (71 teams in 2019) 
• Strategic National Partnerships o Launching a credit card partnership with Allegiant, the first of its kind between a sports property and airline o Roster of prominent multi-year national partnerships including Allegiant, Applegate, BUSH’S Beans®, ECHO Incorporated, Guardian Protection and, among others  

For more information about Minor League Baseball, visit 

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

I have also authored a number of books (eBook and paperback) on topics of baseball that are available on Amazon.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

The 15-Year-Old Major Leaguer: Joe Nuxhall Discusses His Precocious MLB Debut

World War II impacted every aspect of life imaginable in the United States during the 1940s. As the conflict raged globally, adjustments were made everywhere, including in Major League Baseball, which had to get creative to field an entertaining product. This included one game where a 15-year-old boy named Joe Nuxhall, took to the mound against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Joe Nuxhall was born and raised in Hamilton, Ohio. By the time he entered high school he was the size of a grown man and pitched on a local semi-pro team with his father Orville, who was also a talented hurler. The young left-hander threw hard, but often didn’t know where the ball was going—a typical fault of someone that age.

In 1944, the Cincinnati Reds, like other teams in baseball were struggling with their operation. Many major leaguers were serving in the armed forces and attendance was way down, as people tightened their belts in relation to the war effort. Anything new, different or with the potential to provide a spark of talent was under consideration.

Seeking pitching talent, the Reds sniffed around Orville, thinking he could possibly be an asset. However, he rejected their overtures because of the five children he had at home with his wife. His son Joe was another matter, even though he was just 14 at the time.
After the next year’s basketball season was over, Joe signed a contract with the Reds in February of 1944, receiving a bonus of $500. Although the team intended to wait until the school year was over to have him do anything with the team, their war-depleted roster dictated thinking outside of the box and they were able to obtain permission for the young southpaw to be in uniform with them as of Opening Day.

It was common at the time for teams to sign young talent and have them with the team to gain experience, even if it didn’t come by playing in actual games. Of course, the major difference this time was such rookies were typically fresh out of high school; not out of middle school.

On June 10th, 1944 the Reds were being shellacked by the first-place St. Louis Cardinals in Cincinnati when the team decided to see what their boy wonder could do. Trailing 13-0 in the ninth inning, the schoolboy, a little over a month shy of his 16th birthday, came on to face a star-studded lineup headlined by future Hall of Famer Stan Musial.

Predictably, Nuxhall was wild. Perhaps it was his typical control issues, and very likely a healthy dose of nerves mixed in. Regardless, he lasted just 2/3 of an inning, walking five batters and giving up two base hits (including a single to Musial) a wild pitch and five runs before being pulled. The Reds lost the game 18-0.

Nuxhall was done in the big leagues for the time being. He pitched an additional game in the low minors in 1944 but was similarly routed. He pitched in the minors in 1945, but “retired” in 1946 so he could finish high school.

After graduation, Nuxhall returned to baseball to pitch in the minor leagues, still affiliated with the Reds. He made steady progress, but by that time the enlisted players had returned from the war and making a team required real polished talent.

Finally, in 1952, Nuxhall made his triumphant return to the Reds. He was now 23 and had refined his craft significantly since the last time he was in the majors. He went on to enjoy a 16-year big-league career spending all but 42 games with the Reds before retiring as a player after the 1966 season.

Nuxhall finished with career totals of a 135-117 record with a 3.90 ERA in 526 games. He was a two-time All Star and went on to spend nearly 40 years as a beloved radio announcer with the Reds, passing away in 2007 at the age of 79. He was inducted in the team’s Hall of Fame and has a statue outside their current stadium—quite the journey from when he was just a boy.

 On May 30, 1960 Sports Illustrated published an article by Roger Williams titled “Joe’s Bad Dream.” In it, Nuxhall spoke at length about his debut. Below, I will post some of his comments with some of my thoughts in italics.

On being noticed for the first time by Cincinnati scouts: “I had terrific control that day. The catcher just stuck up his glove and I hit it. Nobody could have been more surprised than I was. Mr. McKechnie [Bill McKechnie, the Cincinnati manager] and his coaches stood around watching me. My fast ball kept going right on target, so I threw a couple of knucklers. 'Son,' said Mr. McKechnie, 'cut that stuff out. Stick with the fast ball."

Pitching in front of the skipper, who was a future Hall of Famer, must have been surreal. The team was interested in his raw talent, but Nuxhall was obviously trying to act like a “real” big leaguer by flashing the exaggerated arsenal.

What did Nuxhall do with $5 pocket money he was given on his first road trip with the team?: "I went to a penny arcade and spent the whole five bucks swinging at pitches from Iron Mike."

The irony is great that the young pitcher spent his entire allowance on taking batting practice from a pitching machine. However, it may have been a solid investment, as he hit a combined .198 with 15 home runs during his career—excellent numbers for a hurler.

What did he think about his tryout with the Reds?: "What an occasion that was. I had a crazy patchwork uniform on. And since I didn't have any baseball spikes, I wore my dress shoes. They gave me a $500 bonus and a major league contract and, by golly, I was a big league ballplayer."

Being able to impress the scouts despite wearing dress shoes and a uniform he was likely ashamed of is a testament to his raw talent. In subsequent years, his appreciation for uniforms and equipment must have been significant.

What life was like when he first joined the Reds at 15: "No one worked with me too much. I'd go to the field on Saturday and pitch a little batting practice. My control was terrible and sometimes I'd be lucky to get one out of 10 over the plate. After batting practice, I'd sit on the bench and watch the game. I must have been a sight, too. I had dug up an old pair of baseball shoes that turned up so much at the toe that the front spike never touched the ground. And I used a beat-up Johnny Vander Meer glove. I had to take it off real gently, like a girl pulling off a kid glove, or all the stuffing would come out."

It must have been a lonely experience for him. Many of the players were trying to hold on to jobs they knew they were in danger of losing when soldiers eventually came back from the war. That would not have led to many of them taking on a mentoring role. Additionally, it would not have been easy for either Nuxhall or his teammates to really relate to each other given they were not from the same peer group.

What did he remember from his first game with the Reds?: "This was the fifth or sixth big league game I'd ever seen, and I was just sitting there like a spectator. All of a sudden Mr. McKechnie said, 'Joe, warm up.' I had no idea he meant me until he motioned me to the bullpen. I grabbed my glove and started out of the dugout—and tripped on the top step. I fell flat on my face. Everybody roared, I guess. I didn't hear a thing.

"Al Lakeman warmed me up in the bullpen and I sent him up the terrace three or four times chasing my wild pitches. I was shaking like an airplane engine on a palm tree.

"We went down without scoring in the eighth and I walked out to pitch the last inning. I don't remember about the warmup pitches—I must have been floating on a cloud. Joe Just, the catcher, didn't use any signs, because all I could throw was a fastball.

"Somehow, I got the first guy out, and I got the third man too. I don't recall who they were, but somebody grounded to Eddie Miller and somebody else popped one up." The somebodies were Second Baseman George Fallon, who grounded to Shortstop Miller, and Center Fielder Augie Bergamo, who popped out. Between the outs, Nuxhall walked Pitcher Mort Cooper and sent him lumbering to second when he threw a wild pitch to Bergamo. Then he went to a 3-2 count on Debs Garms, the third baseman, and walked him, putting men on first and second with two outs.

"Just about then, I started to realize where I was. I came down off that cloud fast and started shaking all over again. Golly, a couple of days before I'd been pitching to 13-year-olds!"
The game had 3,510 fans in attendance. Although very modest by major league standards, it must have been a wild experience for Nuxhall, who up until the point had pitched in front of a smattering of attendees at his youth and semi-pro games.

Did he remember facing Musial?: "I doubt if Musial remembers it, but I can just imagine what he was thinking: 'O.K., get that damned thing over the plate so I can get outta here.' He must have been real anxious to go, the way he hit me. I can still see that ball zooming by. He really shillelaghed it."

Musial was coming off having won the 1943 National League batting title and was already one of the best hitters in baseball, despite being just 24 himself. Giving up just a single may have been a minor victory.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

I have also authored a number of books (eBook and paperback) on topics of baseball that are available on Amazon.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Minor League Baseball Grows Copa de la Diversión in 2020

Organization Builds Formula of Success Celebrating U.S. Hispanic Fans and Communities  
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Nov. 14, 2019 — Minor League Baseball™ (MiLB™) today announced the continued longterm commitment to and celebration of its U.S. Hispanic fans and communities through the unveiling of its 2020 Copa de la Diversión™ (Fun Cup™) campaign and event series. Each of the 92 participating MiLB teams covering 34 U.S. states will transform its on-field brand to a culturally-relevant Hispanic persona, representing an extension of the team’s and community’s identity. Fans are encouraged to join Minor League Baseball’s ongoing celebration of its U.S. Hispanic communities by using #JoinLaDiversión on social media.  

MiLB’s Copa-specific website features each team’s unique identity, including the story behind its Hispanic on-field persona, and links for fans to purchase available apparel for select Copa de la Diversión (“Copa”) teams. Similar to years past, the 2020 participating teams will release their official on-field looks in March 2020 as the second part of the unveiling when on-field merchandise will be available for purchase on MiLB team store sites.  

The cornerstone of MiLB’s Es Divertido Ser Un Fan™ (It’s Fun to be A Fan™) Hispanic fan engagement initiative, Copa de la Diversión established an innovative new platform authentically connecting MiLB teams with their diverse communities, embracing the culture and values that resonate most with U.S. Hispanics nationwide.  

“Copa de la Diversión began as a fan and community-first initiative and remains as such,” said Cory Bernstine, director, marketing and business strategy for Minor League Baseball. “The initiative has become the blueprint for authentic and intentional fan engagement and its growth and success continue to infuse the Hispanic culture into the MiLB experience.”

The fourth year of celebrating Es Divertido Ser Un Fan, 2020 marks the third year of the Copa de la Diversión initiative, cementing MiLB’s commitment to U.S. Hispanic communities nationwide. The campaign had massive success in 2019, paving the way for the 2020 program, including: 

• 1.8 million fans attending nearly 400 Copa de la Diversión games 

• MiLB teams partnering with more than 200 local Hispanic/Latino organizations, donating more than $400,000 in cash and gifts-in-kind to local Hispanic philanthropies 

• Nearly 20% higher average attendance per Copa game vs. the average per game attendance 

Since launching Es Divertido Ser Un Fan in 2017, Minor League Baseball has continued to reinforce its position as a leader in creativity, innovation and community engagement with its intentional and authentic strategy to engage its U.S. Hispanic fans. In 2018, Copa de la Diversión was introduced with 33 teams and grew to 72 teams in 2019. The 2020 campaign adds 22 new teams and identities to MiLB’s “comunidades” of Copa de la Diversión, plus four rebrands from the previous year.  

In November 2018, MiLB announced an agreement with ECHO Incorporated making it the first commercial partner tied to Copa as the “Official Outdoor Power Tool of MiLB” and the “Official Outdoor Power Tool of Copa de la Diversión” (“Herramienta Oficial de la Copa de la Diversión”). Last month, ECHO extended its agreement with Minor League Baseball and Copa by becoming the “Official Outdoor Power Equipment of Copa de la Diversión™” (“Equipos Portatiles Motorizados - Equipos Oficiales de la Copa de la Diversión”). 

Additionally, MiLB announced a partnership with the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) in December 2018 to become an “Official Charity of MiLB Copa de la Diversión,” making it the first-ever philanthropic partner tied specifically to MiLB's Hispanic fan engagement initiative. Minor League Baseball has raised awareness for the cause through the partnership and LFA’s ¡Adiós Lupus! campaign in ballparks. 

Minor League Baseball will announce the winner of the 2019 Copa de la Diversión (Fun Cup) event series next month at the Baseball Winter Meetings™ in San Diego.  

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

I have also authored a number of books (eBook and paperback) on topics of baseball that are available on Amazon.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Examining the 2020 Modern Era Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

The National Baseball Hall of Fame has announced that 10 candidates will be considered as part of the 2020 Modern Era ballot for possible induction.  Those under consideration include Tommy John, Dwight Evans, Steve Garvey, Marvin Miller, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Don Mattingly, Ted Simmons, Lou Whitaker and Thurman Munson. If any of these renowned figures receive at least 75% of votes from a 16-member panel voting on December 8th at the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings in San Diego they will punch their ticket to Cooperstown. Do any of them belong, and if so, who? Let’s take a look.

Tommy John, Pitcher: The lefthander won 288 games and had a 3.34 ERA during the course of his career. However, he accumulated those stats across 26 seasons. Other detractors include never striking out more than 138 batters in any season, only making four All-Star teams and receiving Cy Young Votes (but no awards) in just four different seasons. That’s not to say he wasn’t an excellent player—he was, but on stats alone it is a stretch for the Hall. However, when you add in his being the inaugural recipient of the eponymous Tommy John Surgery, which has helped many baseball players since, he could be on the bubble for getting the requisite votes.

Dwight Evans, Outfielder: Possessing a powerful arm and superior skill with his glove, Evans gradually became a dangerous hitter. Spending all but one season of his 20-year big league career with the Boston Red Sox, he was a career .272 hitter with 385 home runs, 1,384 RBIs and 2,446 hits. The 256 home runs he hit between 1981-1989 were more than any other player in the American League during that time. He flew under the radar for much of his career, but his 67.1 career WAR is significantly higher than long-time teammate Jim Rice’s 47.7, which was good enough to get him into the Hall in 2009. Evans should have a strong case for getting the 12 votes needed.

Steve Garvey, First Baseman: An excellent all-around player, his legacy has dimmed some since he retired, as advanced stats have cast him in a somewhat different light. He was known as a tremendous defender, but his range was limited. He hit .284 with 222 home runs in 19 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres, and while he won the 1974 National League MVP, the only major offensive stats he ever led the league in was hits (twice). His 38.1 career WAR is simply beneath the threshold of other first basemen in the Hall. It’s hard to imagine he will get the push needed to get to Cooperstown.

Marvin Miller, Executive: The long-time head of the players’ union passed away in 2012. It’s a n oversight that he was not enshrined prior to his death. Love him or hate him, he was directly responsible for the strengthening of the union, free agency and helping increase annual player salaries to the levels they are at today ($4.36 million in 2019). He was no favorite of owners, but a master strategist for the players. Simply put, few in the history of the game have impacted baseball as much as Miller, whose only obstacles will be the politics that have kept him out thus far.

Dale Murphy, Outfielder: The two-time National League MVP spent most of his 18-year career with the Atlanta Braves. He hit a combined .265 with 398 home runs, 1,266 RBIs and 2,111 base hits. Unfortunately, his last above average season came when he was just 31, he languished on a number of terrible teams and had a relatively short peak as a star (1980-1987). His 46.5 WAR and 121 OPS+ are both excellent in the grand scheme of things, but on the extremely low end for a potential Hall of Famer. Instead, he is more fitting for a charter member of the Hall of Very Good.

Dave Parker, Outfielder: In a very similar class to Murphy, “Cobra” had a 40.1 career WAR and a 121 OPS+ The left-handed hitter won an MVP Award and two batting titles on his way to a career marks of a .290 batting average. 339 home runs, 1,493 RBIs and 2,712 base hits in 19 seasons. He was not a strong fielder, but on the other hand had four top-five MVP finishes in addition to his win in 1978. He also had only one truly star season after he turned 28 (1985, when the then 34-year-old was with the Cincinnati Reds). It’s hard to make an argument that he is a Hall-of-Famer, given the criteria that has been used to induct members to date.

Don Mattingly, First Baseman: “Donnie Baseball” played his entire 14-year career with the New York Yankees. He was probably the best player in baseball from 1984-1987, winning a batting title, and MVP and finishing in the top eight three other times. Known for a sweet left-handed swing and possessing the grace of a ballerina in the field, he was unfortunately beset by back injuries that limited his production in later years and ultimately curtailed his career. He finished with six All Star appearances and nine Gold Gloves, but his overall numbers of a .307 batting average, 222 home runs, 1,099 RBIs, 2,053 base hits and 42.4 WAR are a weak resume for a first baseman.

Ted Simmons, Catcher: Making the mistake of playing simultaneously in the National League during the awesome spectacle that was the career of legendary catcher Johnny Bench, the switch-hitting Simmons continues to be criminally underrated. In 21 seasons, he hit a combined .285 with 248 home runs, 1,389 RBIs and 2,472 base hits. He also walked almost 200 more times than he struck out, was a solid defender and posted a career WAR of 50.3 There is little doubt he belongs in the Hall, but whether or not he gets in is most definitely up in the air. His career totals of a .307 batting average, 222 home runs, 1,099 TRBIs, 2,153 base hits and a 42.4 WAR are nice, but not Cooperstown-type numbers. His peak was strong, but not long enough to have deserved serios interest by the Committee.

Lou Whitaker, Second Baseman: One of the most underappreciated players in recent memory, “Sweet Lou” should have been admitted to the Hall years ago. An excellent defender, who also was a threat with the bat when that was not a common trait for second basemen, his 75.2 WAR is good for 78th all time, nestled between Johnny Bench and Luke Appling, both Hall-of-Famers. His career totals in 19 seasons, all with the Detroit Tigers, of .276 with 244 home runs, 1,84 RBIs and 2,369 base hits are excellent numbers for the position. His long-time running mate, shortstop Alan Trammell got into the Hall last year via the Veteran’s committee. Whitaker has better numbers in most categories and it’s a travesty every year he is kept out.

Thurman Munson, Catcher: After parts of 11 strong years with the Yankees, Munson was well on his way to making a no-doubt Hall of Fame case for himself when he tragically died in 1979 at the age of 32 in a plane crash. His career totals of .292 with 113 home runs and 701 RBIs (along with being a strong leader and defender) seems like a weak resume on its face. However, he had already accumulated an impressive 46.2 WAR and it can be pointed to the likes of Kirby Puckett and Addie Joss, who had careers cut short by tragedy but are in Cooperstown, as support for similar consideration for the all-time great Yankees’ receiver.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Dale Scott: The Umpire Experience

Umpires are truly overlooked for their contributions to baseball. Their ability to arbitrate games and interpret rules is done at an amazingly high success rate. Even their humanity during times when they make mistakes, or at a minimum, decisions that not all agree with, can bring an exciting and unexpected element to the game. One of the best umpires to ever strap on a face mask was Dale Scott, who had a distinguished 31-year career and it should come to nobody’s surprise if his name is eventually in consideration for the Hall of Fame.

Born in 1959 in Oregon, Scott grew up loving baseball. In addition to playing, he first started umpiring as a 15-year-old in high school. Like many other careers, one thing led to another and before he knew it he had a full-time job umpiring in the minor leagues in 1981 when he was just 22.

Young umpires must be able to handle the rigors of the grueling minor-league travel, along with adapting to dealing with players and managers of varying pedigrees and notoriety. The way Scott zoomed through the ranks was a testament to his skill and adaptability. 

In 1985, he umpired one game at the major league level. By the following year he was there to stay—on his way to a 32-year career. He started in the American League but was calling games in both leagues as of the 2000 season. Along the way, he officiated in three World Series, six League Championship Series, 12 Division Series and three All Star Games.

Scott also was behind the plate for a number of no-hitters, had run-ins with legendary managers and also became a crew chief in 2001. He gained national attention by publicly coming out in 2014 and was named to the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

Unfortunately, Scott had to retire in 2017 after suffering a series of concussions on the job. He and his husband Michael, who has been with him since 1986, still live in Oregon. He leaves behind a baseball legacy that is not easily matched and should be an excellent candidate for consideration for enshrinement in Cooperstown one day. Keep reading for some of his recollections about his career.

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: I was a Dodger fan growing up, especially the 1974 NL Pennant winner. My favorite player was Steve Garvey since that was my favorite position.

How did you come to get into umpiring and when did you know it would be a viable career?: I started umpiring in the spring of 1975. I was 15 and a sophomore in high school. It became a career when I was hired to work in minor league baseball. But you don't know or think of it as a viable career until you make it to the major leagues since your "career" could be over at any level in the minor leagues. You don't know if you're going to make it all the way to the top until you actually get that call.

What is life like for a minor league umpire versus a major league umpire?: It's the same game of baseball but they're a world apart. Obviously, the money and benefits are a huge discrepancy, not to mention job security...something you don't have at any minor league level. But the difference in media intensity and scrutiny; in travel both in transportation (all first-class airfare by contract); but also the types of hotels you're consistently staying at; in clubhouse amenities (including having your uniforms and gear, that are in a big bulky trunk, air freighted from city to city). In Triple-A you carry your gear, a real headache, getting all of your equipment comped including undergarments for both cold and warm weather, in trips home on off days (you don't get too many off days in the minor leagues and rarely can afford to fly home) not to mention you get four weeks during the season off in the big leagues, and of course the consistent level of play you see day in and day out.

What do you remember most about your first major league game?: It was a one game call up on August 19, 1985...a make-up game from a rain out earlier in the season. I was in Omaha and flew (all of maybe 20 minutes) to Kansas City to work third base. I was very nervous but of course trying not to show it. George Brett was playing third and when he came out to start the game he said ‘hello Dale.’ I said hello back. He then said, ‘your first game?’ I actually looked down then said, ‘do I have a wet spot or something, how did you know it's my first game?’ He laughed, ‘no wet spot, I just hadn't seen you around!’ We both got a pretty good chuckle out of that.

Which hitter and pitcher that you personally saw were the most talented?: I've seen many outstanding hitters and pitchers in 32 years of service. To name a few hitters: Wade Boggs, Kirby Puckett, Ken Griffey Jr., Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, just to name a few. Pitchers: Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Justin Verlander, and many more.

What is the one game you umpired that you will always remember most?: So hard to pick one game when you have worked almost 4,000 regular season and 91 post season games. If I had to say one, it would be my first World Series; Game 3, October 20, 1998, New York Yankees at San Diego. My first post season plate game, Seattle at New York Yankees Game 2, October 4, 1995 (15 innings) and World Series Game 3, Arizona at New York Yankees, October 30, 2001 are both right up there.

Were managers like Earl Weaver and Billy Martin really as intense as their legacies?: I didn't have Weaver much; only one season (1986, my first). I was the last umpire to eject Billy Martin, on Memorial Day, 1988 in Oakland. He ended up throwing dirt on me and was suspended three games. He came back for a few weeks and then was fired, never to manage again. Both men were extremely intense and not easy to umpire, as they always had something to say... especially when you're a rookie or rather new on the staff.

Did you consider coming out publicly earlier in your career?: No, in fact I did everything I could to conceal my sexuality as I tried to carve my own path as a MLB umpire. Things and society changed and by the time I came out publicly in December, 2014, there was same-sex marriage in several states (including California where Mike and I got married in our backyard on November 2, 2013) and earlier that year MLB hired Billy Bean as Ambassador of Inclusion in a major outreach in professional baseball to be inclusive. It just seemed that I was being pretty hypocritical by not being honest after all the progress that had been made. My coming out was not a shock to the umpires on the staff nor the people I worked for on Park Avenue. It was however news to teams, fans and the media. I'm happy I did make that decision and I'm proud to be the first active male official in the five major sports (Baseball, Football, Basketball, Hockey and Soccer) to come out publicly.

What, if anything, would you have done differently in your umpiring career?: In retrospect, nothing. I had a great career, making it to the big leagues at age 26, working three World Series and three All Star Games, crew chief for 16 of my 32 years, I have no regrets.

Do you ever think about the possibility of your potential induction in the baseball Hall of Fame?: Not at all. I think in the history of baseball, some 150 years, there are only 10 umpires in the Hall. I personally think there should be more and have several names that deserve it, but the Hall is very stingy even considering umpires, let alone voting them in.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

I have also authored a number of books (eBook and paperback) on topics of baseball that are available on Amazon.