Runge is the first third-generation umpire in major league history.
His grandfather, Ed, umpired in the AL from 1954-70. His father, Paul,
was an NL ump from 1973-97. Brian, 32, joined the ranks in 1999. He
lives in San Diego.
Referee: Runge is a famous name in umpiring. What's it like to follow in your father's and grandfather's footsteps?
great, but there's a lot of pressure, too. I'm dealing with it so far.
There's a lot to live up to, but I have no complaints.
Referee: What's it like being a younger umpire on a veteran crew?
players test you. You fall into a thing where a young umpire has to
prove himself. You have to be a little more aggressive, but you have to
be smart about it at the same time. My feeling is, if I show the
players respect, they'll respect me. If they see I'm out there working
hard, if I'm busting my tail night after night, they'll be a little
more forgiving if I kick one. Not a lot and not all of the time, but
they'll let it go a little quicker.
Referee: During the season, do you keep in touch with umpires you worked with in the minors or on other crews?
the old days, guys would call each other all of the time. Some of us
young guys still call each other, picking each other's brains and
talking about plays or things that happened on the field.
heard a little about the physical training pointers you're getting
from Major League Baseball's fitness guru. How is that going?
trying to put us on a program, which is great for us. People don't
know what life on the road is like. Being on the road and trying to eat
three meals a day and trying to stay fit isn't easy. Part of the
problem is that the food\ in the locker room isn't the best food in the
world. It tastes good, but it's not the healthiest stuff in the world.
For a night game, you eat lunch, get to the ballpark and work a
three-hour game. When you're done, it's 10 o'clock and you're hungry.
You have to be careful about what you eat. So they're trying to get the
clubbies (umpire's room attendants) to have healthier food in there
Referee: Do umpires work out at the ballparks or in the hotel health rooms?
now having an opportunity to work out on ballpark equipment. It was
always there, but it wasn't always available to us before. That's
great, because while some hotels have great workout rooms, others
Referee: When you're struggling, particularly behind the plate, what do you do to straighten yourself out and get back on track?
think back to the basics, the things I learned at the Wendelstedt
school. I'm constantly talking to myself, reminding myself of the
basics. If that doesn't work, I'll go to the crew chief if I can. The
thing is, the guy who has the best look is the second base umpire, but
it doesn't look good to have the second base umpire come running to the
plate between innings, so you have to go to the guy at first or third.
They can usually help. Some guys will venture out when they're
struggling and other guys will internalize it. I like to ask. For
instance, last year I was having trouble on plays at first base. I
wasn't getting set. It's what we call "walking through the play." Mike
Reilly talked to me about it. Again, I went back to what I learned in
umpires school and it helped me work it out. That's the good thing
about having gone to umpires school only a few years ago; I can still
remember everything I learned there.
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