Mike Briscese

From BR Bullpen

Michael Linus Briscese

  • Bats Right, Throws unknown
  • Height 6' 0", Weight 205 lb.

BR Minors page

Biographical Information[edit]

After a brief minor league career in the 1930s and a decade of umpiring in the minors in the 1950s, Mike Briscese was briefly a major league umpire during the 1979 umpires' strike.

Born on Staten Island, he grew up in Keyport, NJ in a family of Italian immigrants. He played baseball and basketball in high school then played semi-pro ball for a while while working in a dynamite factory before signing his first professional contract.

An infielder, Briscese played for the Tarboro Serpents of the Coastal Plain League in 1938, hitting .277 in 49 games. He split the 1939 season between the Kinston Eagles of the Coastal Plain league and the Pennington Gap Miners and Johnson City Cardinals of the Appalachian League, where he hit .246 in 50 games. He was out of organized baseball in 1940, but in 1941 played 8 games for the Fort Pierce Bombers of the Florida East Coast League, hitting .261. He then served in the United States Navy from 1943 to 1945 during World War II, serving as a gunner on a tanker ship supplying fuel for aircraft operating in North Africa. When he was discharged, his old job at a munitions factory was no longer available, so he worked a variety of odd jobs for a year before returning to baseball.

He resurfaced in professional baseball in 1947, after attending Bill McGowan's umpiring school, with the training paid for under the GI Bill. He worked as an umpire in the Eastern Shore League. He worked in the Big State League in 1948 and 1950, the South Atlantic League in 1950 and then the American Association one month into that season, staying there until 1953. Staying in the top minors, he then moved to the International League in 1954 and 1955. He later claimed that the American Association did not keep him on staff because he was too quick to resort to ejections. There is in fact a lengthy record of Briscese getting into spats with various players and managers during his career. As a result, he was not able to take the final step upward, to the major leagues, and instead found himself in the Texas League in 1956 and 1957, after which he retired. During his years as a minor league umpire, he also worked as an instructor at the McGowan school, where he had himself been trained, and also worked in the winter leagues, in Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

He moved back to Minneapolis, MN, where he had met his wife upon first joining the American Association staff in 1950. He found a job working for the postal service, but soon divorced his wife and quit his job. He found work as a detective for a local hotel, but got back into umpiring, this time at the college level, after being asked to fill in at an American Association game in 1960. Combined with high school and amateur games, he worked about 80 games a year for the next few years, rounding out his income by working at a cement factory. Unfortunately he hurt his back at that job and had to give up umpiring for a time. With not much schooling and little training besides umpiring, it was hard for him to find steady employment. However, when he got in touch with the Minnesota Twins to see if there was anything available for him to do, he was asked to be on standby in case an umpire was needed on short notice. Labor negotiations with the Major League Umpires Association were going badly, and teams were asked in 1978 to identify some local umpires who could step in in a pinch. That's how he got his chance to umpire in the big leagues when the umpires walked out at the start of the 1979 season. He formed a crew with Bill Ivory and George Sweeney, local amateur umpires, and Mike Fitzpatrick a former minor league umpire still employed by minor league baseball as an umpiring instructor, who acted as crew chief. He worked 10 games between April 17th and May 16th, all of them at Metropolitan Stadium, including four as home plate umpire. In his last games, he worked with Derryl Cousins, who had been hired by the American League from the Pacific Coast League because of the strike, and would go on to umpire in the majors until 2012.

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