NEW YORK -- Umpire Bruce Froemming, who has spent a half-century in pro ball and worked more than 5,000 games in the majors, is getting ready to call it a career.
The 68-year-old Froemming is set to retire at the end of this season. He will be the plate umpire at the All-Star game next month in San Francisco, and Major League Baseball planned to announce it then.
"It's been a long time," Froemming said by telephone on his way to Fenway Park for Thursday night's game between Colorado and Boston. "It's 50 years."
The Rockies-Red Sox game was the 5,079th of Froemming's major league career. Bill Klem holds the record with 5,368, working from 1905-40.
Froemming began umpiring at age 18 when he went directly from high school to the long-gone Nebraska State League. He became a big league ump in 1971 -- Expos-Mets at Shea Stadium was his first game, and it was cut short by snow after five innings.
Over the years, Froemming earned a reputation for being able to control even the most pressure-packed games. He'll be at Yankee Stadium this weekend for Subway Series.
|Bruce Froemming is ready to stop calling balls and strikes after 37 years in the major leagues. (AP)|
"I've obviously worked at this a long time, and every once in a while you think of when it might be time for a change," Froemming said.
"I feel great, I love what I do," he said. "And would you believe it, I'm lucky enough to have a ballgame to work tonight."
In mid-April, Froemming was honored after passing Klem's record for consecutive years of service by an active umpire. Froemming is in his 37th season -- Klem became chief of NL umpires in 1941 and worked 11 games as a supervisory fill-in that year.
Froemming set that record during a game in Houston between Florida and the Astros. The game was briefly stopped and he was given a plaque between the fifth and sixth innings.
Last August, Froemming was in Boston for his 5,000th game. There was a video tribute on Fenway's video board in center field and when it was over, he walked to a microphone, thanked the fans and said "Play Ball!"
Along with his family, Froemming will have someone else waiting for him at home in retirement. There's his dog, with the fitting name for an umpire's best friend -- "Blu."