WILLIAMSBURG, VA, June 2014 – – Al Clark was a Major League umpire for 26 years (1976-2001). In that time, he had one of the best views possible to see some of the greatest players, managers, coaches and plays of his generation. He also accumulated a number of significant milestones and challenges in his life:
- Al was on the field for Cal Ripken’s record-setting consecutive game to break Lou Gehrig’s long-standing record, Nolan Ryan’s 300th victory, Randy Johnson’s first no-hitter, Dave Righetti’s July 4, 1984, no-hitter, Bucky Dent’s Playoff homer against Boston and the earthquake during the 1989 World Series in San Francisco.
- Al worked 3,392 regular season games and a total of 54 post-season games including Division Playoffs, League Championship Series, World Series and a one-game AL Eastern Division Playoff.
- Al was the first and only Jewish umpire in the history of the American League.
- Al was the first umpire to wear glasses on the field on a regular basis.
- Al was the only MLB umpire in history to wear his name (AL) on his baseball hat.
- Al ejected future Hall of Famer Frank Robinson during the National Anthem.
- Al spent 120 days in prison on a mail fraud charge.
On May 1, 2014, Al’s autobiography, Called Out But Safe, A Baseball Umpire’s Journey (University of Nebraska Press), written with Dan Schlossberg, became available in book stores nationwide, as well as on Amazon.com. The 198-page book, with career facts and photos, covers everything from Al’s days as a child and a minor league umpire to his time in the Majors where he was a controversial but fair umpire. True to his craft, he once gave the thumb to his father in the umpires’ room after a game.
Al Clark has an opinion on everything baseball. He is often asked: What is his view of instant replay – – and how do the umpires feel about it? What does he think of the new no collisions at home plate rule? What is his opinion of the rule banning pitchers from using foreign substances on balls? What does he think about players using PEDs? What should be the criteria for getting into the Hall of Fame? Who was the Cy Young Award winning pitcher who went on an anti-Semitic tirade against Al?
Al was fired from his MLB umpire’s job after the 2001 season for misusing an MLB credit card and not reporting it to his superiors. In 2004, he spent 120 days in a federal prison on a mail fraud charge that involved a memorabilia deal gone bad. He also received 4 months of house arrest, a $40,000 fine and 2 years of probation.
With a background in journalism and public speaking, today Al is a popular motivational speaker, guest lecturer and special event guest around the country and on cruises. After leaving prison, Al launched a website to help other men heading to jail deal with their situation. He is proud of his years in baseball and has grown as a person from the roadblocks he has faced in life. Called Out But Safe, A Baseball Umpire’s Journey is an open, honest, forthright, no-holds-barred story that is the most unusual true baseball story ever told.