|17 – John Hirschbeck|
Hirschbeck in 2011.
September 7, 1954 |
|MLB debut||May 6, 1983|
|Career highlights and awards|
John Francis Hirschbeck (born September 7, 1954) is an umpire in Major League Baseball. He worked in the American League from 1984 to 1999 and has worked throughout both major leagues since 2000. He is currently a crew chief. On February 28, 2000, Hirschbeck was elected as the first president of the newly certified World Umpires Association. He wears uniform number 17, which was also his number when the leagues maintained separate umpiring staffs.
Hirschbeck has umpired in the All-Star Game three times (1989, 2004, 2013), in the Division Series 9 times (AL: 1995, 1998, 1999, 2005; NL: 2001, 2003, 2006, 2010, 2013), the American League Championship Series 4 times (1990, 1997, 2000 and 2004), and the World Series four times (1995, 2006, 2010, 2013).
According to Hirschbeck, he began umpiring as a senior in high school; short of money to attend his prom, he started umpiring for $5 a game. He continued in college and umpired in the minor leagues for seven years.
Although most umpires stay out of the public eye, Hirschbeck came to be widely known for an on-field incident on September 27, 1996 in Toronto when Baltimore Oriole Roberto Alomar got into a heated, two-way argument with Hirschbeck over a called third strike. Hirschbeck then ejected Alomar from the game, and Alomar spat in Hirschbeck's face, claiming that the umpire had used a degrading ethnic slur against him. Lip readers contend that Hirschbeck called Alomar "a faggot" as Alomar was walking away. Alomar, and other players, claimed that Hirschbeck's personality had been extremely bitter since one son had died from adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) and another son had been diagnosed with it. Having heard Alomar's remarks, Hirschbeck charged into the Orioles' clubhouse the next day and he had to be restrained by fellow umpire, Jim Joyce. Alomar was suspended for five games and required to donate $50,000 to ALD research. By October 5, Hirschbeck said he had forgiven Alomar for the incident.
Alomar and Hirschbeck made public apologies to each other on April 22, 1997, standing at home plate and shaking hands in front of the crowd before an Orioles game. "You know, I just wanted to put it behind us," Hirschbeck said on an interview to the Arizona Republic in 2005. "I said something to him once and it just flooded out how sorry he was."
Hirschbeck and Alomar joined forces to raise awareness about ALD and to raise funds for research. They came to regard each other as friends. When asked about the incident at his retirement in 2005, Alomar said, "That, to me, is over and done. It happened over nine years ago. We are now great friends. We have done some things with charity. God put us maybe in this situation for something." Alomar later made a donation of $252,000 for research on adrenoleukodystrophy.
Hirschbeck was the home plate umpire on October 6, 2010 for the first NLDS game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia when the Phillies' Roy Halladay pitched a no-hitter. He was selected as crew chief for the 2010 World Series and worked behind home plate in Game 1.
On May 5, 2013, Hirschbeck ejected Bryce Harper when Harper dropped his equipment and threw his helmet on the ground after Hirschbeck determined that Harper had engaged in a strike-three check-swing. Replays indicate the swinging strike call was correct. 
Hirschbeck started his umpiring career as a part-time Little League umpire in high school. He is a 1976 graduate of Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut, where he played baseball.
John's brother Mark Hirschbeck served as an umpire from 1988 to 2003, with the pair becoming the first brothers to become major league umpires.
On April 8, 2014, Hirschbeck's son Michael died. The cause of death was not immediately known.
On August 23, 2009, Hirschbeck was diagnosed with a form of testicular cancer described as treatable by Dr. Stephen Jones of the Cleveland Clinic, causing Hirschbeck, who had missed the entire 2008 season following back surgery, to miss the remainder of the 2009 season as well. After the tumor was removed via orchidectomy, the cancer was given a 10 percent chance of recurrence, and Hirschbeck returned for the 2010 season.
After working a reduced schedule in 2011 due to back pain, Hirschbeck's cancer returned and he missed the 2012 MLB season. His last contest before returning to umpiring's disabled list was Game 162 of the 2011 regular season between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles.
In August 2012 Hirschbeck advised he was again cancer-free and made plans to return to work in 2013. He worked his first Spring Training game after his return to MLB on February 28, 2013, serving as the first base umpire for a Boston-Pittsburgh game.
- "He Calls the Balls and Strikes". Associated Press. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- As They See 'Em: A Fan's Travels in the Land of Umpires - Bruce Weber - Google Books
- David Wells Perfect Game Box Score Baseball Almanac.com. Retrieved 14 June 2012
- Bonds turns page to new era with home run No. 756 ESPN.com. Retrieved 14 June 2012
- Roy Halladay throws second no-hitter in postseason history ESPN.com. Retrieved 14 June 2012
- Elsberry, Chris. Stratford's Hirschbeck the crew chief for World Series ctpost.com. Retrieved 14 June 2012
- Kilgore, Adam. Bryce Harper ejected in first inning arguing check swing. Washington Post. Retrieved 06 May 2013
- "MLB Ejection 027: John Hirschbeck (1; Bryce Harper)." Close Call Sports and the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League. May 5, 2013.
- "John Hirschbeck loses second son". Associated Press. ESPN.com. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
- "Hirschbeck ready to return following big-league scare". The New Haven Register. November 3, 2009.
- "Exclusive: Umpire John Hirschbeck to the Disabled List". Close Call Sports. March 15, 2012.
- "After blown save, Chris Perez tweets his feelings". Cleveland.com. August 6, 2012.
- "Healthy John Hirschbeck Works First Spring Training Game." Close Call Sports and the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League. February 28, 2013.
- Blum, Ronald. 2003. "Judge tosses out umpires' lawsuit." Associated Press. January 28, 2003.
- "Baseball looking to discipline Hirschbeck." Associated Press. July 19, 2002.
- Pollak, Lisa (December 29, 1996). "The Umpire's Sons". The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore: Times Mirror).
- Reaves, John A. 2005. "Umpire John Hirschbeck has dealt with harshest curves life can throw." The Arizona Republic. Aug. 10, 2005.