Book Review: The Umpire Is Out

Don Laible
As an MLB umpire, Dale Scott saw a lot and heard a lot on stadium fields for 33 years. Now, with the release of his life story, The Umpire Is Out: Calling The Game And Living My True Self, Scott is telling a lot.

Who knew a baseball umpire's life could so interesting?

First, Scott is gay. For the longest time, to his family and his baseball fraternity, Scott did his best to hide his sexual orientation. Gradually and unceremoniously, he came out in 2014. Happily married to his husband Michael Rausch, Scott offers a happy and exciting life to share.

The Umpire Is Out takes readers from Scott working as a teenager in the late 1970s at a Top 40 radio station in his hometown of Eugene, Oregon spinning Casey Kasem's weekly countdown show, to getting the officiating bug while still in his teens.

Once taking the leap to give professional umpiring school a whirl, Scott dishes details on how he beat the odds of being selected for one of the very few available openings to making the grade.

"It (Florida) was so new, fresh, and exciting for me at 21," recalled Scott. "I was embarking on a career that I had no idea where it would take me."

A week in Bradenton, after gaining high grades after introduction to professional umpiring, the rest as they say is history.

As an astute young man, Scott knew his chances were slim of making it to the major leagues.  He planned to ride the wave in the minors for as long as they would have him, and if things didn't go in his favor, it would be back to radio.

"Since I was in junior high, I think it was seventh grade, I had a fascination to be a disc jockey. It seemed like it would be a lot of fun. When I was in high school I had the opportunity to be on the school's FM station," says Scott, who made his MLB debut in 1985 during a Kansas City Royals - Detroit Tigers game.

Perhaps the most heart-tugging people introduced in The Umpire Is Out are Scott's parents Jess and Betty Scott.  So supportive in his quest of an occupation few pursue and fewer succeed professionally at, the chapter where mom oh so matter-of-factly lets her son know she knows he is gay is beyond sweet.

Supporting their adult son by traveling near and far to catch him working games in the low minors through to his World Series assignments, readers quickly become fans of Jess and Betty Scott.

"I've always had a great relationship with my parents," said Scott, who turns 63 in August. "In 1998, I had the plate for Game 3 of the World Series (Yankees and Padres). I remember Dad and I standing on the patio in the hotel, and him giving me a pep talk. He was so excited for me and so proud."

Having been assigned to three World Series and as many All-Star Games, along with so many other memorable baseball assignments, none seem as pressured as Scott working at Yankee Stadium on October 30, 2001.

With Game 3 of the World Series being played in the Bronx between the Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks, in the shadows of the ongoing clean-up in nearby Manhattan of the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, Scott gives an in-depth, inside account of President Bush at the ballpark.

This is just one of many amazing stories shared in The Umpire Is Out.

Scott lets us in on an additional umpire who dressed for the opening of the game - who was a U.S. Secret Service agent.  You'll want to read the details.

"The country was still in shock about what was going on. At Game 3, you couldn't help but feel the emotion down on the field," Scott tells.

However, mentally, as an American, Scott let it all soak in.  As an umpire, after President Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch of the game, Scott focused on his assignment.  

"It was surreal," explains Scott of President Bush visiting the Umpire's locker room prior to Game 3.  "Wow. Here I am in the locker room at Yankee Stadium, with the President of the United States, and I have the plate that night, with Roger Clemens pitching."

Scott doesn't have a solid answer as to why he as opposed to so many others made the MLB grade, but in every twist of his career he is most appreciative of the breaks afforded.

He tells of umpire luck bestowed upon him, while working a Triple-A game in Louisville, Kentucky.

"Dick Butler (American League Supervisor of Umpires) was in Louisville watching another umpire. I wasn't even on his radar. He saw me, and everything went well. Call it fate, or whatever. You can be prepared but you do need an opportunity."

Scott witnessed up close during games he was assigned to so many greats of the game bedazzle their challengers. He was assigned to two Justin Verlander no-hitters, worked nearly 100 post-season games, manager Lou Piniella's last game in 2010, and the October 3, 1993 game in Arlington, Texas between the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers - the last game in the careers of both George Brett and Nolan Ryan.

Plus, if you want to know what the umpiring crew saw and said in New York for Game 1 of the 1996 American League Championship Series between the Yankees and Baltimore Orioles - the Jeffrey Maier game - read Scott's account in The Umpire Is Out.

This is the game where a 12-year-old New Jersey boy may or may not have interfered with an Orioles outfielder, as he attempted to catch a ball smacked by Derek Jeter. With no replay at the time, Maier reached out and caught the ball instead of Baltimore's Tony Tarasco, and the at-bat was ruled a home run. Scott was the first base umpire for this game.

Scott's last game worked as an MLB umpire was on April 14, 2017, in Toronto, Canada. Hit by a ball in his mask, Scott was taken to a hospital where it was determined that he suffered a concussion and whiplash.  This was his fourth known concussion in five years.

"Spring training 2018 and 2019 were my first not on staff. The thing you miss the most is the people. Spring training is a fun time of year. For three or four weeks you work day games, and stay in one place."

Dan Iassogna, a fellow umpire with whom Scott states he worked "1,000 games together," is a former teammate who he keeps in regular touch with. Then, there is the Zoom, usually every four to six weeks, that the fraternity (umpires) share. Jim Joyce, Tim Tschida, and NBA Referee Bill Kennedy are among the group who share stories and laughs with Scott.

The Umpire Is Out offers so many inside stories on great names in baseball history. Scott is honest in how he explains each encounter. He's a man you can't help but to root for in his coming years as a private (baseball) citizen. Scott truly is one of the better ambassadors of the game.