|Wednesday, September 1
Emotional ending to careers
BALTIMORE -- Greg Kosc couldn't mask his emotions as he prepared for the final game of his 23-year career as a major league umpire.
As he accepted the lineup cards before Wednesday night's game between the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Kosc had tears in his eyes.
"This is my last day," he told Orioles manager Ray Miller.
Kosc was one of 22 umpires whose resignations were accepted by major league baseball in the wake of the union's ill-fated attempt to try to force an early start to negotiations for a new labor contract.
Some of the 22 were working Wednesday night in Los Angeles, San Diego, St. Louis and San Francisco. Three of them -- Terry Tata, Tom Hallion and Bill Hohn -- worked the Dodgers' 5-4 loss to Milwaukee.
"We lost a game today, but I'm more sad about the departure of some old friends," Dodgers manager Davey Johnson said. "We're going to miss them. I was hoping they'd resolve it somehow. It's a shame, they're going to be missed."
Frank Pulli, a 28-year veteran, was given the final ball after the Cardinals beat Florida 9-3 in St. Louis.
"If he's one of the 22 worst umpires in this league, I'm a kamikaze pilot," Cardinals coach Rene Lachemann said. "It's a big mistake that they fired him."
Kosc called Wednesday's game at Camden Yards without incident. Afterward, he shook hands with Baltimore's Brady Anderson, Miller and Tampa Bay manager Larry Rothschild.
"I told him, 'Maybe it will still work out for you, Tiny, but thanks for all years of being so professional,"' Miller said.
Kosc then spoke with Rothschild before walking off the field for the last time. He will formally be out of a job at 6 a.m. ET Thursday.
Kosc, 50, refused to talk to reporters. But in the parking lot, he said, "I don't know anything. I haven't heard a thing."
He planned to make a phone call from his hotel room, where the bad news awaited him.
Kosc received a business degree in business administration from the University of Texas-El Paso, where he competed in weightlifting and threw the shot put and hammer.
Kosc, a 255-pounder, still lifts weights and works out on a regular basis. Because baseball players usually pick a trait and then go the opposite way with a nickname, he's known among his peers is "Tiny."
"We argue with these people, but you have to remember they're human beings with a family and a lot of time in the big leagues," Miller said.
Ed Hickox was scheduled to work the game at home plate, but skipped the game to be in a U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, where lawyers for the umpires' union and baseball worked out the deal.