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John Shulock

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John Richard Shulock

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[edit] Biographical Information

John Shulock was an American League umpire from 1979 to 1999, then was part of the major league umpiring staff from 2000 to 2002 after the two leagues merged their umpiring staffs.

He played minor league baseball in the Minnesota Twins organization from 1967 to 1969. He had been drafted out of high school by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 44th round of the 1966 amateur draft, but did not sign at that time. A second baseman and shortstop, he hit .250 in 15 games for the GCL Twins in 1967, then .220 in 42 games between the St. Cloud Rox (Northern League) and Wisconsin Rapids Twins (Midwest League) in 1968. He played another 21 games with Wisconsin Rapids in 1969 and finished his professional career with another 21 games for the Class-A Orlando Twins of the Florida State League that same year, hitting .204 with 3 homers and 7 RBI between the two teams.

He began umpiring in the Florida State League in 1974, moved up to the Southern League in 1975 and was promoted to the AAA American Association in mid-1976. Such a rapid rise through the ranks indicated that he was extremely well regarded, but in 1979 he made a fateful decision, accepting to cross the picket lines as a replacement umpire during the strike by members of the Major League Umpires Association at the beginning of that season. When the conflict was resolved a few weeks later, he was one of eight of the replacement umpires to be kept on staff (four in each league). That group of umpires was famously ostracized by colleagues and called "scabs" openly. Most of them were hounded into quitting early, but Shulock went on to have a full career, even though he was never allowed to join the umpires' union. He worked two World Series (in 1985 and 1992), two All-Star Games (in 1983 and 1994), and six other postseason series. He even rose to the rank of crew chief. One reason that he lasted this long in spite of hostile circumstances was that players and his peers agreed that he was a very good umpire: a 1987 poll of catchers in Sports Illustrated ranked him the third-best umpire in the American League.[1]

Shulock was also known for having a difficult temper. In 1999, he was suspended for three games by American League President Gene Budig for an incident in the September 20 game between the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Anaheim Angels. In the 3rd inning, he was struck in the mask by a pitch from Tampa Bay's Wilson Alvarez. Thinking that the pitch was intentional and that catcher Mike DiFelice had deliberately failed to catch the ball, he charged the mound, and DiFelice had to physically restrain him. Budig suspended and fined him, citing "overly aggressive behavior, display of temper, inappropriate remarks, and physical contact". [2]

[edit] References

[edit] Further Reading

  • Jack Curry: "Two Umpires Still Aren't Allowed to Forget", The New York Times, December 23, 1994. [1]

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