Woman ump on the way; Willie's feat. Pam Postema shows promise calling balls , strikes in minors; Wilson collects rare homers
It probably won't be that popular a move with those inside the game when it happens (because baseball people are almost always opposed to change) but somewhere down the road there's going to be a female major league umpire. And if she continues to improve at her present pace, that woman probably is going to be Pam Postema, who is working at the Triple-A level this year in the Pacific Coast League.Skip to next paragraph
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The reason most baseball executives think it's going to be Postema is because of her consistency in calling balls and strikes; because she knows the rule book; and because she doesn't have rabbit ears. They also say that Pam will listen to criticism from the people who count and that she understands that she may have to wait another three years before they consider her experienced enough to make the move.
Those who are opposed to a woman umpire at the big league level never think females are physically tough enough for the job - that one foul tip in the neck and they'll quit. Of course, it depends on the woman.
Postema is not the first female to umpire professionally. Bernice Gera, a Jackson Heights, N.Y., housewife, took baseball to court before she got a chance to work in the New York-Pennsylvania League. But Gera turned out to be more women's libber than umpire, quitting after working the first game of a doubleheader.
Later Christine Wren, who called balls and strikes in at least two exhibition games at Dodger Stadium, worked in the minor leagues and said at the time that she planned to make umpiring her career no matter how tough the going got. ''If I make it to the majors someday - fine,'' Wren explained. ''But if I never make my way out of the minors, that's OK too.'' Within a couple of years of that statement, Christine had returned to a more conventional job.
As the first female umpire ever to reach the Triple-A level, Postema told reporters that she isn't thinking as much about the extra pressure as she is about just having a good year. ''I realize the majors are still a long way off, '' she said. Wilson and inside-the-park homers
Almost anyone in the major leagues (including pitchers) can hit the ball out of the park. But speedy outfielder Willie Wilson of the Kansas City Royals recently got his 11th career inside-the-park home run against the Detroit Tigers. Ordinarily a feat like that means that the runner completes his tour of the bases in under 14 seconds.
Although no formal records are kept on inside-the-park homers, Wilson's total , achieved in just over five big league seasons, is an impressive one. He still has a long way to go, though, to catch up to some of the old-timers in this department.
Veteran statistician Seymour Siwoff of the Elias Sports Bureau in New York says unofficial records compiled by the Society for American Baseball Research indicate that Sam Crawford, who played for Cincinnati and Detroit from 1899 through 1917, had 51, and that Ty Cobb had 47. Even Babe Ruth, who was hardly known for his speed on the basepaths, accomplished the feat 10 times.
The unofficial high for one season is 10, set by Kiki Cuyler of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1925. The record for one game (the only mark in this category listed in the Official Baseball Record Book) is two. No less than seven players have managed this rarity, the most recent one being Dick Allen with the Chicago White Sox in 1972. Tidbits from around the majors
* The Los Angeles Dodgers' great start this year can be traced directly to their bullpen, which has the highest number of saves in the National League. Southpaw Steve Howe, for example, hasn't allowed an earned run in 23 innings of relief.
* ''Once our young players got their feet on the ground last year,'' said manager Billy Gardner of the Minnesota Twins, ''we finished the season by winning 44 of our last 92 games. Frankly, I expected that momentum to carry over into this season, only so far it hasn't. For us to get anywhere, we're going to have to stop losing so many games in the late innings.''
* The New York Mets reportedly will try to lure former Baltimore Oriole manager Earl Weaver out of retirement in time for the 1984 season. Weaver would replace George Bamberger, who would move into the front office.
* Injured shortstop Rick Burleson, who played his last game with the California Angels on April 17, 1982, is expected to come off the club's disabled list somewhere around the July All-Star break. Burleson's immediate goal is to get into as many games as he can this year as a utility player, then try to regain his starting job in spring training of 1984.
* During Darrell Evans's recent 13-game hitting streak with the surging San Francisco Giants, Evans batted an even .500, going 26-for-52. Included in those figures were 7 home runs, 13 runs batted in, and 11 runs scored. Before that streak Darrell had been 0-for-10 at the plate.