Froemming now longest-tenured umpire
His 37 years surpass mark set by Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem
HOUSTON -- It was a beautiful, sunny, 68-degree day at gametime in Houston Monday night, but for some involved with the series opener between the Astros and Marlins, getting to Minute Maid Park on time proved to be quite a challenge.
Consider umpire Bruce Froemming, for instance. He was stuck in New York Monday morning, in the middle of the storms that overtook the Northeast, and for a while, he wasn't sure he was going to make it to Houston in time.
That would have been a shame for two reasons. One, he was scheduled to umpire first base for the game that night. But also, this game carried quite a bit of significance. It was a record-setter for Froemming, who is now the longest-tenured Major League umpire in baseball history.
His 37 consecutive years of service marks the longest term ever, surpassing the mark set by Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem, a.k.a "The Old Arbitrator," who umpired in the big leagues from 1905-40.
Froemming was to set the record on Sunday at Shea Stadium, but that Mets-Nationals game was rained out. His entire family was at Shea for what was supposed to be his historic moment, but instead, Froemming spent five hours at LaGuardia Airport trying to find a flight for his wife, Rose Marie, who was not able to accompany the rest of the family to Houston.
Froemming's son, Steven, and daughter-in-law Elizabeth joined him in Houston, however, allowing the long-time umpire to celebrate his big day with family.
Lounging in the umpire's locker room prior to Monday's game, Froemming took a few moments to reflect upon the last 37 years, during which he has held a job "that I've loved all my life."
"To go to work every day with a job you like is a pretty good life," he said.
Froemming, 67, became a member of the Major League umpiring staff in 1971. He worked the All-Star Game in 1975 and 1986, plus eight Division Series, 10 League Championship Series and five World Series.
He worked his 5,000th Major League game on Aug. 16, 2006, at Fenway Park, joining Klem as the only other umpire to top 5,000 Major League games.
Interestingly, Froemming's first game as a big-league umpire was snowed out. Like Sunday's rainout, that game was also slated to take place at Shea Stadium.
Froemming reflected upon the many umpiring partners he's had through the years and credited them with making the job enjoyable.
"The partners make my season go fast because we have a lot of fun," Froemming said. "We play cards, we play golf. We umpire together, which is the most important thing, and we get along. And it makes the season fly."
Froemming mentioned his crew for Monday's game with special fondness. That group included Mark Wegner, Brian Runge and Mike Winters.
Asked about the stress level that accompanies being a Major League umpire, Froemming said the outside elements that are part of the job are the biggest hindrance.
"The easiest part of this job is the umpiring itself, going on the field every night to work," he said. "The toughest part is the uncertainty of the travel, being away from home, airports, cabs, hotels. That's where the stress is."
Froemming was recognized at the end of the fifth inning of the Astros-Marlins game. Three representatives from Major League Baseball presented Froemming with acknowledgement of his history-making achievement: executive vice president of baseball operations Jimmie Lee Solomon and vice president of umpiring Mike Port.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.