Former VP of MLB umpiring says umpires don't think highly of Hawk Harrelson

Chicago Tribune. (Getty Images)

By this point, we've all heard of fair share of whining -- and out-and-out ranting -- from White Sox homer announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson. This past weekend, Hawk went utterly ballistic on umpire Lance Barrett.

This prompted Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Rosenbloom to question if Hawk's rants might have a negative effect on the White Sox, in terms of umpires hating Hawk so much that they set out to make bad calls in favor of the Sox's opponents.

Someone who would know a lot about the psyche of umpires emailed Rosenbloom, and it's a beauty. The following message comes from Mike Port, who was recently the Vice President of Umpiring for Major League Baseball for over five years.

Here is Port's take on Hawk, and it's basically a perfect take-down -- again, via Steve Rosenbloom of


I can’t tell you I am the smartest guy in the world, but I can tell you I spent 42 years in Baseball, the last 5 1/2 years of which were spent supervising the Major League umpires.

Are Ken Harrelson’s umpire-related rants hurting the White Sox?

In my opinion -- no. Maybe the MLB umpires are good at fooling me -- but based upon my experience and acquaintance with them -- I don’t think so.

Several points:

--Just as players try, umpires try. Players miss ground balls, strike out, throw wild pitches, etc. Umpires miss on pitches and calls. But to think umpires “screw up” on purpose is akin to believing that a player would strike out on purpose to aggravate his manager.

--Umpires have great accountability to the Commissioner’s Office. As you probably know, plate performances are evaluated by the best technology. And, every call they make is reviewed for accuracy.

--The White Sox. They have a good club. Compliments to Kenny Williams and his crew for trying to “rebuild” and compete at the same time.

--Ken Harrelson. Great personality, but considered an incorrigible, tired act by the umpires. They consider the source and respect the players’ efforts too much to make mistakes intentionally.

--In Harrelson’s regard, the umpires seem to gravitate to something told to me by Gene Autry (whom I had the privilege of working for with the Angels): “If you see it; why would you step in it?”

A quick review of Harrelson’s umpiring “expertise” would seem to indicate that Harrelson is one of those who thinks that because he once flew on a 747 that he can pilot the damn thing.

I doubt the umpires really care about Harrelson. One thing I found them to be excellent at is recognizing ignorance.

Best regards.

Mike Port

You go, Mr. Port. Man, how about that closing paragraph? Talk about subtly hammering a guy into submission.

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CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered the last six World Series beginning with the epic 2011 Fall Classic. The former Indiana University... Full Bio

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