Along with Bill Summers, Al Barlick holds the record for working the most All-Star games, seven, which is perfectly appropriate. As umpire schools became all but mandatory, umpires became more uniform and interchangeable, but Barlick stood out as an All-Star in his own right.
Albert Barlick (1915-1995) started his umpiring career on the sandlots of Springfield, Illinois, in 1935. He moved to the Class-D Northeast Arkansas League in 1936. Other circuits that he worked included the Piedmont League, the Eastern League, and the International League.
By age 26, Barlick joined the National League in 1940, when the legendary Bill Klem was forced from the field due to illness. Barlick was immediately recognizable to fans due to his flamboyant, loud strike calls and “out” gestures that even fans in the cheap seats couldn’t miss. He was a hustling umpire who inspired respect among managers; they could never accuse him of not “bearing down.”
In 1943, he joined the Coast Guard, serving on a submarine in the Atlantic Ocean. He resumed his career in 1946. He worked the World Series that year, when Enos Slaughter made his “Mad Dash” home to win the fall classic for the Cardinals. In 1947, he worked first base during the first game that Jackie Robinson played for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The Giants felt joy and anguish during two of the World Series in which Barlick was an umpire. Al worked the 1954 fall classic, when Willie Mays made his over-the-shoulder grab of Vic Wertz’s line drive nearly 460 feet from home plate. Mays twirled and fired a perfect throw to hold the baserunners at first and third. Al was also the arbitrator in the 1962 World Series, when Yankee second baseman Bobby Richardson speared Willie McCovey’s liner to end the Giants’ comeback bid.
Barlick’s most memorable call was in 1949, when he ruled that Chicago Cub Andy Pafko trapped a ball in the outfield after a 220-foot pop. A riled Pafko argued the call while the batter wheeled around the bases for one of the shortest inside-the-park home runs in history. Barlick had heart trouble and sat out the 1956 and 1957 seasons, returning in 1958. He took such pride in his profession that when voted Best National League Umpire in 1961, he spurned the honor because it was not voted on by umpires.
Barlick retired from active duty in 1971, after 30 distinguished years in the majors. Along with his seven All-Star calls, he worked in seven World Series. His most memorable midseason classic was in 1970, when he was working the plate as Pete Rose flattened catcher Ray Fosse. That year, Barlick was again voted Umpire of the Year. He accepted the award, as it was based on a vote among his fellow arbiters. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989.
After he retired, Barlick worked for the National League as a consultant and a scout. He surveyed the Triple-A American Association and the Pacific Coast League, looking at the quality of umpires in those two circuits.
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