Called Out But Safe
By Paul Hagen / MLB.com
Sitting down with “Called Out But Safe: A Baseball Umpire’s Journey” has to be a lot like sitting down over a beer with former umpire Al Clark and listening to him talk. It’s a breezy, conversational read.
Clark, 66, is clearly proud of having worked in the Major Leagues for more than 25 years and calling more than 3,000 games — including two World Series, seven playoff series and two All-Star Games. He frequently refers to the umpires as the “third team” on the field and misses no opportunity to praise their importance to the game.
In this volume, written with veteran journalist Dan Schlossberg, Clark covers a variety of topics, from being one of only three arbiters to eject Cal Ripken Jr. from a game, to the impact of being Jewish, to wearing his name “AL” on his cap before the American and National Leagues merged umpiring staffs in 2000.
What sets this book apart, though, is not the good times and amusing stories. It’s the hard falls that came, first when he was fired for travel expenses irregularities in 2001, and then again three years later when he spent four months in jail and four months on house arrest after being convicted of mail fraud connected to the sale of baseball memorabilia.