07/10/07 7:50 PM ET
Froemming's storied career winds down
Umpire announces plans to retire after 2007 season
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
Froemming said he began contemplating this decision a couple of months ago, at which time MLB immediately began to explore means to keep him involved with the sport."After I put my shirt in the bag for the last time, I'll be doing something in the game," Froemming said. "It'll be spelled out later." "On behalf of [Commissioner] Bud Selig and [MLB executive vice-president, baseball operations] Jimmie Lee Solomon, I want to congratulate Bruce on 37 terrific years of umpiring Major League Baseball," said Bob DuPuy, MLB president and chief operating officer. "He has been the consummate professional throughout his career. "All of us salute him, and we're really happy he's going to continue with us going forward, and we wish him nothing but the best." At a time some umpires draw occasional criticism for being confrontational and conceited, Froemming never has considered himself more important than the game. He recalled an anecdote from early in his career that captured that perspective. In 1972, he was behind the plate as the Cubs' Milt Pappas bid for a perfect game against the Padres. With two outs in the ninth, Froemming called Pappas' close full-count pitch to Larry Stahl ball four. Garry Jestadt then lined out to preserve the no-hitter. The next day, interviewing Froemming on his pregame show, Cubs broadcaster Lou Boudreau asked him, "Do you realize you could have been the 12th umpire to be behind the plate for a perfect game? You would have been famous." "Oh, yeah?" Froemming said. "Who was No. 11?" "Well, I don't know," Boudreau admitted. "Yeah," Froemming said, "that's how famous I would have been." He has always maintained that selfless attitude. Following Cal Ripken Jr. into the room used for All-Star related press conferences, Froemming called out with a twinkle in his eyes, "Don't everybody leave. Or I'll just be talking to my family." Upon being introduced by Port, Froemming canvassed the room of reporters from behind the microphone and said, "Usually when I'm in this situation, you guys are ready to kill me because of some questionable call or something." MLB already saluted Froemming a year ago, as he was calling his 5,000th career game in Fenway Park. The memory of that occasion stays with him. He doubtless will form more indelible memories the next three months, on a last voyage that figures to be observed and celebrated throughout the Majors.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.