12/20/2012 10:42 AM ET
MLB Network goes behind-the-scenes with World Series umpires in The Third Team: All-Access 2012 World Series
Documentary premieres Thursday, December 27 featuring never-before-heard audio of umpires’ interactions with players and coaches
By / MLB.com
Secaucus, N.J., December 20, 2012 – From calling the balls and strikes to making a crucial call at home plate, MLB Network will bring viewers into the lives of the 2012 World Series umpires in The Third Team: All-Access 2012 World Series, a one hour special premiering Thursday, December 27 at 9:00 p.m. ET. The documentary features exclusive behind-the-scenes access and never-before-heard audio of Fieldin Culbreth, Gerry Davis, Brian Gorman, Dan Iassogna,Brian O'Nora and Joe West, as they worked this past year’s Fall Classic between the San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers.
All six umpires wore microphones before, during and after each World Series game, as The Third Team captures the sights and sounds of the umpires pre- and postgame rituals, their interactions with players and coaches on the field, and their calls on the some of the series’ closest plays, including Iassogna’s crucial out call of Detroit’s Prince Fielder at home plate in Game Two and his subsequent conversation with Tigers Manager Jim Leyland about the play.
An exclusive interview with MLB Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Joe Torre is featured, plus all six umpires discuss the bond they share as the “third team” on the field, the pressure of being an MLB umpire, the sacrifices they have made for their careers, and the feeling of having reached the pinnacle of their profession, which Fieldin Culbreth says, “You start off with 68 of us, and to be one of the six that’s chosen to work the World Series is an honor.”
The Third Team also features Iassogna and O’Nora discussing the emotion of working their first World Series, Gorman talking about following in his father Tom’s footsteps as an umpire, and Davis’ thoughts about setting the record for the most Postseason games worked by an umpire in Game One.
Highlightsfrom The Third Team: All-Access 2012 World Series include:
Brian O’Nora on the umpire profession:
This is the only job that you have to be perfect from the first day and get better at it.
Joe West on missing a call:
I can honestly say, that whenever any umpire makes a mistake, a little bit of him dies inside.
Brian Gorman on the World Series being the pinnacle of the profession:
When the players play in Little League, they think about playing in the World Series. As an umpire…you just can’t do any better.
West on being an umpire:
The average person doesn’t look at us as real human beings. They think we’re just robots that go out there and do what we do. They don’t look at you as having families, and that’s not true. They all have their own lives, their own mortgages, their own car payments. They have a real life, like everybody else.
Fieldin Culbreth on Pablo Sandoval’s three-home run game:
Even as an umpire whose kind of lost that fan look at the game and [is] just looking at it professionally, every now and then you see something [and] you just go, ‘Man, that is unbelievable. There’s not many people that can do what just took place right there.’
Culbreth on how much umpires care about their craft:
I can assure you that players don’t talk any more about hitting and fielding than we do about balls [and] strikes, safes and outs. We love our craft. We work hard at it.
West on the most important call for an umpire:
It doesn’t matter how many ones you had before that you got right. It’s the next one that’s the most important call of your life.
Iassogna on what it was like working home plate for Game Two:
If I tell you, I’ll start crying…I’ll just say I had a lot of people out there with me…[My wife] Denise and the girls, my parents, everybody I ever worked with, they were all with me.
O’Nora on his perspective towards the job:
The way I look at this job is I leave my wife and my kids for seven months. I would be cheating them, I would be cheating the ballplayers and cheating myself if I don’t give them everything I have. So every night, I leave everything on the table. [It] doesn’t matter if it’s a playoff game or a regular season game.
Gorman on following in his father’s footsteps as an umpire:
My dad was already in the big leagues when I was born, so I kind of knew growing up what the lifestyle’s like [and] what the baseball family’s all about. Now that I’m going through it, I have much more admiration for what he went through because he wasn’t really making that much money and things like that. The travel was tough on him. My mom died when I was real little, so he was doing it by himself.
Culbreth on the crew’s performance in the World Series:
As far as I’m concerned, it looks like we came out unscathed. Everything was correct. When this thing’s all said and done, you just want to blend in and let these two teams battle it out. As far as I’m concerned, that’s what happened.
Davis on the “third team”:
One of the things that we, as umpires, think about is there’s really a third team on the field. A lot of people don’t pay attention to that; those that know us do. But from an umpire perspective, everything was great. We had two new guys on the crew. They both did great jobs and that’s fun to see.
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This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.