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Marty Springstead

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Martin John Springstead

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Marty Springstead was an American League umpire for 21 seasons.

He graduated from the Al Somers umpiring school in the late 1950s, and umpired in the Northern League in 1960, but his career as a professional umpire was interrupted by service in the U.S. Army. He enlisted in the late 1950s, served at Fort Dix, NJ at the same time as Elvis Presley, and spent all of 1961 and 1962 in the military. His service over, he returned to umpiring in the Southern League (1963 to 1965). He was then an American League umpire from 1966 to 1986. In the 1973 World Series, he became the youngest crew chief in World Series history; he also worked the Fall Classic in 1978 and 1983. Additionally, he was an umpire in the All-Star Game three times and at the ALCS on five occasions.

Springstead was known for not shying away from an argument. He was regularly among leaders for ejections and on September 15, 1977 had a celebrated argument with Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver in a game at Toronto's Exhibition Stadium. Weaver argued that a piece of tarpaulin held down by bricks in the bullpen area made the field unsafe; when Springstead disagreed, Weaver pulled his team off the field and Springstead declared a forfeit. There was a lot of bad blood between the two, but then there were a number of umpires with whom Weaver never got along.

From 1986 to to 1999, Springstead worked as the American League's supervisor of umpires, then was a supervisor of umpires for Major League Baseball until 2010, after the two leagues merged their umpiring staffs in 2000. All three of the major league umpiring supervisors - Springstead, Rich Garcia and Jim McKean - were dismissed after the 2009 Postseason was marred by a number of umpiring controversies. It seems that the three veteran umpires were made scapegoats for problems that were well beyond their area of responsibility.

Springstead retired in Florida and died of an apparent heart attack suffered while swimming near his home.

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