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Cal Hubbard

Position: Umpire

Cal Hubbard
Not only did Cal Hubbard work three
All-Star games and four World Series
in his career, but he also played tackle
for the NFL-champion Green Bay
Packers in the early 1930s.

Ted Williams once said that umpire Bill Summers “was like Cal Hubbard. He took complete charge of a game.” Hubbard was perfectly capable of taking complete charge; at 265 pounds, the former football star backed down from no one.

Robert Cal Hubbard (1900-1977) was born in Keytesville, a small town in north-central Missouri. He was raised on a farm, and as a youngster he tried his hand at the game of baseball, though he was not considered to be very good. He enrolled at Centenary College in 1922, because his boyhood idol, Bo McMillan, was the football coach there. Cal played football there two years, and was always the dominant player on the gridiron. Cal also played baseball at Centenary, but again was not considered very good. When McMillan left to coach at Geneva College in 1924, Hubbard went with him.

Hubbard played well enough to be named an All-American in 1926. He joined the New York Giants in the National Football League in 1927. A five-time All-Pro, Hubbard played tackle both ways, and after being granted a requested trade to the Green Bay Packers, he helped the team to three consecutive championships. His skills on the gridiron earned him election to both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was also voted the NFL’s greatest tackle for the league’s first 50 years.

In 1928, Hubbard started umpiring in both the Piedmont and the Southeastern Leagues. He also worked in the South Atlantic League. By 1931, he had moved up to the Triple-A International League. He put in eight minor-league seasons before joining the American League in 1936, which was his last season as a professional football player. He was an excellent umpire with an uncanny knowledge of the rule book, and he worked his first World Series in 1938 -- he worked three All-Star games and four World Series in his career.

His size had its advantages. Once, while working behind the plate, he warned a catcher to quit arguing balls and strikes. “If you don’t shut up,” Cal said, “I’m gonna hit you so hard on the top of your head it’ll take a derrick to get you back to ground level.” Most catchers shut up.

A hunting accident in 1951 impaired the vision in Hubbard’s right eye, forcing him to retire from active umpiring. He was named the assistant supervisor of American League umpires that year, and was promoted to supervisor in 1954. He remained in that position until 1969, the same year he was elected to Cooperstown.

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