Releasing B. Ripken an errorI am outraged that the Orioles...


December 20, 1992

Releasing B. Ripken an error

I am outraged that the Orioles have decided to sign Harold Reynolds and release Bill Ripken. First, Roland Hemond wastes the Orioles' too easily earned dollars on a winter vacation in Louisville, accomplishing nothing memorable. Then he signs an aging free agent to replace one of the best fielding second basemen in the league.

Though I never would have replaced Billy for anyone in baseball, this move might have been defensible if Reynolds were a power hitter (he's not), or if he had a significantly higher batting average (all of 16 points). Since neither is the case, what was the appeal? That he steals bases? The Orioles already have Brady Anderson, Luis Mercedes and Steve Scarsone who do that. Let's face it, if the Mariners had thought Reynolds was valuable, they wouldn't have cut him loose to make room for rookie Brett Boone.

How about these comparisons? In six seasons, Ripken has hit 12 home runs and driven in 168 runs. In 10 seasons, Reynolds has hit 17 homers and driven in 295 runs. He's only 15 RBI ahead of Billy's pace. And get this: In 1993, the Orioles will pay Reynolds $1.65 million. Ripken would easily have taken his 1992 salary of $685,000. Plus Billy is, at 28, four years younger than Reynolds. And to make matters worse, Reynolds' contract is for only one year.

I'll tell you what the Orioles are losing. They're losing half of the best keystone combination in the majors. And the fans are losing clearly the best wit in the Orioles' clubhouse. Anyone who has ever waited for autographs after a game knows what I'm talking about.

I just want Billy to know that he had real live Billy Ripken fans, and we're truly sad to see him go. But just think, Harold Reynolds' contract is for only one year. And Billy could probably sign for just one year somewhere else. And then . . .

David C. Ray

Annandale, Va.

Too much for Ripken

So the Orioles haven't done anything but take up space at the winter meetings. What's new? They're just waiting until all of the top-notch players are signed by other clubs so they can pick up the table scraps, has-beens and no-names. Had they not wasted $30 million on Cal Ripken, they would be able to afford players of such caliber to help.

At the preposterous amount of money they are paying Ripkenmaybe their plans are for him to do it all next season. The players who carried both the team and Cal last season certainly didn't get any credit for their efforts. Cal, Cal, Cal. Let's hear about something other than Cal next season.

W. Jones


An umpire to remember

As president of the Mason-Dixon Baseball Umpires Association, I recently had to inform our membership of the death of Jerry Barger, a longtime, highly respected umpire. Now I'm bringing this sad news to the recreational sports community. Yes, Jerry Barger, The Singing Umpire, will be no more. The brief DTC two-line obituary did not capture the essence of this unique individual.

If the "Singing Umpire" reference seems inappropriate at thitime, trust me -- that's the way Jerry wanted to be remembered. There are many young -- and old -- men out there who will recall having their high school games umpired by the Singing Umpire. Recently we talked about his nickname. A young umpire who had never seen Jerry Barger perform was present. So Jerry said, "Bill, tell him the Calvert Hall story." Which I did, and that might be the best way to remember the Singing Umpire.

Jerry and I were umpiring a crucial Calvert Hall-St. Joe game. With the bases loaded and a full count, the batter stood there and watched strike three go sailing by. Jerry sang out, "That's sstr-rike th-REEE, and you're his--tor--REE!" The kid dropped his bat, gave the obligatory dirty look, picked up his glove and ran out to his position at first base (where I was umpiring). As he took the infield warm-up throws, he spoke without looking at me: "Hey, Blue, that last pitch was real low, but how can you get mad when he sings at you?" Yes, that was Jerry Barger the singing umpire.

My term as president has not been easy: This time, we lost Jerry Barger. Last season, we lost Lou Bachman, an umpire with 50 years' experience. He, too, worked right up to the end. If Jerry's singing made him a jovial umpire, then Ol' Lou's experience and longevity made him crusty. But they each got the job done. They each got the calls correct. Amateur baseball has lost two fine, highly respected umpires. Let's hope that there are a couple of young umpires who want to be known as "crusty" and who want to "sing out" their calls. If so, you're welcome to join our Mason-Dixon Association.

William L. Gehring


Home cooking for Redskins

It's about time the NFL looked into referees' calls in games the Redskins play at home. That has been going on over there for years. When the game is on the line, the Redskins seem to come out on top.

Last Sunday, Troy Aikman's arm was moving forward, so that was an incomplete pass. The other bad call on the same play was when Emmitt Smith picked up the ball.

There were four officials around in the end zone. They all allowed the ball to be called a fumble. The ground cannot cause a fumble. The officials let Danny Copeland stand up and take the ball out of the pile. History has got to put these two bad calls among the worst ever.

Frank Novak


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