Al Somers

From BR Bullpen

Al Somers
(The Whip)

Biographical Information[edit]

Al Somers was an umpire instructor who owned and ran the Al Somers School for Umpires in Ormond Beach, FL, starting in 1940. By the time Al retired in 1977, it was estimated that his school had trained over 7,000 umpires, including 70 major league umpires; at the time, half of the major league umpires were graduates. The school became the Harry Wendelstedt school and remains the standard for training umpires in the U.S. Wendelstedt was an instructor for Somers before taking over his institution.

Somers also conducted umpire training in the Far East under an Armed Forces program in the 1960s, and in 1965 served as a supervisor of umpires for Minor League Baseball.

Among Al's last students was Pam Postema, the first female umpire to have a real career in the minor leagues (Bernice Gera had quit after umpiring one game, a privilege won after an exhausting battle). Somers did not think women were fit for the job and rejected her twice before admitting her under threat of a lawsuit in 1976. He also did not think that former players made good umpires, and his school was one of the causes of former players disappearing from the umpiring ranks; it's not that he would not have them as students, but by helping to turn umpiring into a trained profession, it made it very hard for former players - who would by definition be late entrants to the craft - to compete against the younger graduates that his school turned out in great numbers.

Somers worked in the coal mines around his home town of Shenandoah, PA after leaving school early, before playing briefly in the New York-Penn League. He then became a minor league umpire, logging 19 seasons in the minor leagues before concentrating on instruction. When he retired, he was umpire in chief in the Pacific Coast League.

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