Minor league umps likely for World Baseball Classic

Updated: February 22, 2006, 8:43 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- While many of the best players are getting ready for the first World Baseball Classic, it appears the top umpires won't be calling the tournament.

Talks between Major League Baseball and its umpires' union broke down Wednesday. The commissioner's office also has been negotiating with the Association of Minor League Umpires, and minor league umps are likely to officiate the 16-nation tournament, which runs from March 3-20.

"As of today's date, at this point it does not appear that major league umpires will be working the World Cup," World Umpires Association president John Hirschbeck said.

Rob Manfred, executive vice president for labor relations in the commissioner's office, has been handling talks with the umpires.

"No matter what happens, we will have umpires working these games that are familiar to major league fans because they will be, at a minimum, guys who have worked games as part of the fill-in process," Manfred said.

The tournament is being run by the commissioner's office and the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Gene Orza, the MLBPA's chief operating officer, said 22-24 minor league umpires would be used along with about eight international umpires. The major league umpires were seeking more money than WBC organizers were willing to pay.

"The umpires were looking for far too much," Orza said.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press