May 2, 1915|
|Died: December 27, 1995
|Election Method||Veterans Committee|
Albert Joseph Barlick (April 2, 1915 – December 27, 1995) was an American umpire in Major League Baseball who worked in the National League for 28 seasons (1940–43, 1946–55, 1958–71). He umpired seven World Series and seven All-Star Games. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.
Born in Springfield, Illinois, Barlick's father, an Austrian immigrant, worked for 50 years at a Peabody coal mine. Barlick dropped out of high school after two years to support his family. He joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, and spent six months in Washington and six months in Wisconsin. When Barlick's brother died, he returned to the coal mine to assist his father.
In 1935, Barlick was hired as an umpire to the Springfield Municipal Baseball League. In August 1936, the Class-D Northeast Arkansas League was in need of a replacement umpire, and hired Barlick for the last 4 weeks of the season. In 1937, Barlick was hired by the Class-B Piedmont League, moved to the Eastern League in 1939, and was promoted to the International League later that season.
In September 1940, National League umpire Bill Klem was unable to work, so Barlick was hired as a replacement. He made his debut in a doubleheader at Shibe Park on September 8. Barlick was offered a contract for the 1941 season, and was 26 years old at the start of the season, making him one of the youngest Major League umpires in history. Barlick made his first ejection on July 27 of that year, when Brooklyn Dodgers catcher Herman Franks objected to Barlick's strike zone.
Barlick joined the Coast Guard in November 1943, during World War II. He was discharged in 1945, having earned the rank of Seaman, First Class. Barlick returned to umpiring in 1946, when he umpired his first World Series.
In 1947, Barlick was the first base umpire during Jackie Robinson's Major League debut. In 1949, Barlick was again chosen as an umpire for the 1949 All-Star Game. He began the game at home plate, although when it became time for the umpires to rotate, as was customary during All-Star games, Barlick left the game, leaving the right field line uncovered; no reason was given for his departure. Barlick would eventually umpire 7 All-Star Games (1942, 1949, 1952, 1955, 1959, 1966, 1970), as well as 7 World Series (1946, 1950, 1951, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1967).
In 1961, the Sporting News polled managers and coaches to determine the best umpires in the Major Leagues. Barlick was voted as the most respected umpire in the National League, as well as the best caller of balls and strikes, best on the bases, best knowledge of rules, best at being in the right position and most serious-minded. When asked about the poll, Barlick stated that it was a disgrace, due to the lack of qualifications of the writers and some of the categories in the poll, which included "most sarcastic", "hardest to talk to", "biggest grandstander", and "worst pop-off". Barlick later stated, “The very idea of the ratings is unfair in that they place labels on hard-working officials who always try to do a good job...What constitutes respect? Does refusal to take abuse from a manager or player signify respect and is that respect forfeited when the player or manager is thrown out of the game?"
In 1963, the league instructed umpires to crack down on balks by pitchers. A few weeks after ejecting pitcher Bob Shaw due to an argument about balks, Barlick called Fred Fleig, the secretary of the National League, and said, “I'm fed up with the whole thing and I am going to quit and go home.” On June 17, 1963, league president Warren Giles announced that there had been a "misunderstanding," and that Barlick would relax at his home for a few days, and then rejoin his umpire crew.
After the 1963 season, Barlick took a job as a public relation representative at Springfield's Water, Light and Power Department. However, he returned as an umpire for the 1964 season. Barlick's crew worked the first game at the Houston Astrodome in 1965. In 1966, Barlick missed nine games after his mother, Louise, died in Springfield. He missed the last two weeks of the 1966 season due to high blood pressure. After the 1968 season, Barlick accompanied the St. Louis Cardinals on a five-week tour of Japan. In 1969, Barlick was the crew chief for the first-ever National League Championship Series. In 1970, he umpired the final game at Forbes Field, as well as the first game at Riverfront Stadium.
In 1971, Barlick was awarded the Umpire of the Year Award at the Al Somers Umpire School, which was based on a poll of other Major League umpires. He stated that the award was "very special," and that it was "a true, honorable, sincere award because it is given to an umpire by umpires." 1971 was Barlick's final year of umpiring, and he skipped the final series of the season at the advice of his fellow umpires. Barlick wore uniform number 1 when the National League adopted them for its umpires in 1970; however, the league retired number 3 in Barlick's honor after his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.
After retiring from umpiring, Barlick was hired by the league to supervise and scout umpires, a job he held for 22 years. Barlick scouted many umpires who wound up having long careers, and was, according to Bruce Froemming, “very proud of the staff he built.” In 1989, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, stating in his speech, "My dreams are fulfilled far beyond my expectations." He was also inducted into the Springfield, Illinois Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.
- Vincent, David. "Al Barlick". sabr.org. SABR. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
- "Al Barlick". retrosheet.org. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
- Larson, Lloyd (26 July 1961). "Al (No. 1) Barlick Unimpressed By Acclaim and Umps' Poll". The Milwaukee Sentinel. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
- "'I'm Out' Said Barlick; But NL Ump Decides To Reverse Call". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. 18 June 1963. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
- "Albert Joseph Barlick - Induction Speech". baseballhall.org. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
- Baseball-Almanac.com - Barlick's Obituary. Retrieved October 25, 2006.
- Al Barlick at the Baseball Hall of Fame
- BaseballLibrary.com - biography and career highlights
- New York Times obituary
- "Al Barlick". Find a Grave. Retrieved 2009-02-28.