Cortesio was released by MLB.
Any info given? Any inside info?
Is this release normal for minor league umps?
Is it normal to ump at Double-A for five years?
I found this story while doing a search on Google...
Cortesio released by minor leagues
Associated Press, Updated 20 hours ago
Ria Cortesio, pro baseball's only female umpire, was released by the minor leagues this week. Earlier this season, she became the first woman in nearly 20 years to call a major league exhibition game.
"I've been prepared for it, to some extent, for a long time," she told The Associated Press on Wednesday from her home in western Illinois. "But I was surprised a little bit."
Cortesio spent nine years in the minors, the last five in the Double-A Southern League, and hoped someday to become the first female ump in the majors. In March, she worked a spring training game between the Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Her mask made it to the Hall of Fame. She handled the Futures Game and Home Run Derby at the All-Star game in Pittsburgh last year. She once was called out by George Steinbrenner for squeezing the strike zone when Roger Clemens made a rehab start.
Cortesio cut her ponytail several years ago and lowered her voice for making calls, trying to be more inconspicuous. At 5-foot-10, she was slender — Prince Fielder once gently lifted her out of the way so he could charge the mound.
She was at her offseason job, helping run the music system at the arena where the Quad City Flames of the American Hockey League play, when she got a call Tuesday from minor league baseball's umpire organization.
"They let you know around the World Series about next year. If they want to keep you, they send a letter. If they're going to let you go, they call," she said. "When I saw the number on my cell phone, I thought, 'Whoa, this is it."'
There are about 300 umpires in the majors and affiliated minors. Several minor league umps get released each offseason, with baseball trying to make a decision on their futures within a few years.
At 31, Cortesio wants to map out what's next. Her family runs a wine business and she's been a substitute teacher in high school. When she went to Rice University, she worked the scoreboard at the Astrodome.
"It does feel freeing, in a way," she said. As she spoke, she said she was putting on her Joan Jett-style makeup to go to work on Halloween night.
There have been six female umpires in the affiliated minor leagues, and none have made the majors. Pam Postema spent several years in Triple-A during the 1980s; after being fired, she filed a sex discrimination suit against baseball and settled out of court 5 1/2 years later.
Cortesio said she had not decided whether to pursue legal action.
Her release came in a call from Mike Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation. He did not immediately return a call for comment.
Cortesio started this season as the top-ranked umpire in all of Double-A. If there had been an opening in Triple-A, it would've been hers.
There were no vacancies and when the new ratings by minor league supervisors came out in midseason, her ranking substantially dropped. So, too, did her chance of getting a promotion and possibly making it to the majors someday.
A move up would have greatly changed her status - umpires in Triple-A are under the auspices of major league supervisors.
"I don't know if they wanted to make a call on me in the majors," she said.
Cortesio started out in the rookie Pioneer League in 1999 and later worked in the Midwest and Florida State leagues. She was an instructor at the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring.
As a crew chief in the Southern League, she made about $2,700 per month. Her three-person crew drove an average of 24,000 miles during the six-month season.
I don't really know anything about her specific case but five years at AA does seem like a long time for someone looking to bounce up. Which just suggests that a diecision had to be made one way or the other.
What is also strange (if it is accurate) is how someone could be the top umpire at the start of a season and fall that fast w/o some good reason or at least a hint as to why.
She may very well have run her course so I can't say that organized baseball stacked the deck against her, but it sure would have been nice to see her on a ML field.
Last edited by Brian McKenna; 11-01-2007 at 03:46 PM.
It does seem that Giamatti is seen as a hero. What are the details about how he was in the way of Postema and the other guy?
I am surprised at how quiet Cortesio's release has been. After hearing so much about her, reading that she was released came as quite a surprise to me.Something must have happened. You don't go from the penthouse to the outhouse that quickly.
Maybe there's more to the story than what we know. She seemed like a good umpire. She was good enough to hang around as long as she did. Surely she was better than some of the other crap we see on the ML field. I'd take her over CB Bucknor any day. That guy is useless. And that other ump, what was his name? The guy that got suspended at the end of last season?
Yeah, we really need to keep the women off the field...
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How much did you actually hear about her? Are you in a minor league community or otherwise in tune? I live in Baltimore and she rarely made the papers - so here her career was just as quiet as her release.
There is always more to a story than we know but do you have any facts relevant to her release due to the fact that she was female? Are there other reasons that a Double-A umpire should somehow be replacing major league umps?
Yeah, I admitted above that there is most likely more to the story than what we know. But baseball is a male-dominated sport. Nobody can really argue that. Women have come a long way in baseball, but there's still a lot of closed doors to women in baseball. I'm beginning to think we'll never see a female ML umpire.
And no, I never expected her to go from AA to the ML. Come on, give me some credit! I just threw that in about bad umps because I'm frustrated with bad umpiring.
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I know a bunch of former pros who are coaching in the minors now. I should see some of them within the next couple of weeks. I'll ask them if they know anything about Cortesio's release.
Working with the count against her
Cortesio aspires to become first woman umpire in majors
By DAN MANOYAN
of the Journal Sentinel staff
Last Updated: May 9, 2001
Geneva, Ill. - Ria Cortesio has done the research and the arithmetic.
Ria Cortesio says she expected to have a rough go of it while umpiring in the Midwest League but she says everything has gone smoothly so far.
When people think of an umpire, they think of dirty, grouchy, fat old men.
-- Ria Cortesio,
minor league umpire
As a female umpire in the macho world of professional baseball, she understands her odds of making it to "The Show" are roughly akin to those of an all-Chicago World Series. She knows of four pioneer women who have called balls and strikes in professional baseball before her, none of whom ever got a whiff of major-league coffee.
The best known of her predecessors, Pam Postema, labored for 13 years in the obscurity of backwater minor-league venues, seven of them in Class AAA and four as a crew chief.
The story goes that then baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti was grooming Postema for the majors in 1989 and even promoted her to doing National League spring training games. But Giamatti suffered a fatal heart attack that year and Postema never got her call.
She gave up her quest in frustration.
Call it baseball's grass ceiling.
"From what I've heard, Pam was one of the best balls and strikes umpires around," said Cortesio recently, before working a Class A Midwest League contest here. "It's a shame she never got her shot. I heard she's a mechanic in Ohio, now."
Cortesio, 24, knows what the stereotype of a baseball umpire is and she knows she is not it.
"When people think of an umpire, they think of dirty, grouchy, fat old men."
She stands as a living, breathing breaker of the mold. She's everything that umpires aren't supposed to be - clean, young and sleek.
"I just want to be an umpire," she said. "Not a female umpire, just an umpire."
Cortesio, who was raised in a small farming community in Iowa near the Quad Cities, grew up playing sandlot baseball with her cousins. When she was old enough to drive, she started going to Quad City River Bandits games in Davenport.
"I always loved baseball, but I knew I could never play it professionally," she said. "Isn't it ironic that they call it "America's Pastime" yet 50% of the population is excluded from playing the game? I don't consider softball an alternative - I think it's a joke.
"We started going to River Bandits games in 1993, the year their stadium got flooded and they had to play their games on local high school diamonds," Cortesio explained. "The umpires had to change (clothes) in their cars because there were no locker rooms, so we would go up to them and talk with them.
"We talked with every crew that came through and the more I talked with them, the more interested I got in the lifestyle. I guess I liked the part about traveling so much.
"One of them told me about umpire school and I decided to look into it."
Cortesio eventually enrolled in the Jim Evans Umpire School in Florida in 1996 at the age of 19. After finishing in the top 10% of her class, she was assigned to the Pioneer League, which has teams in Utah, Montana and Idaho.
She spent two years there, earning a promotion to the Class A Midwest League this year. She is one of 14 full-time umpires (seven two-person teams) employed by the league.
She and partner Scott McClellan of Fort Wayne, Ind., will spend the summer traversing the Midwest, calling games in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Michigan. The league includes Brewers affiliate Beloit (Snappers), and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, based in Appleton.
By all accounts, things have gone smoothly for Cortesio in all aspects of the challenge.
"It's gone real smoothly, but of course that's subject to change at any time," Cortesio said. "I expected things to be a lot worse because I read Pam Postema's book and the abuse she went through.
"But I think times have changed, luckily for me. These guys just want to get on base, score a run, get to the majors - just like me. They don't care what sex you are.
Although Cortesio claims she never has had a player or coach make a sexist comment to her, she has felt an underpinning of resentment.
"Nobody has ever said anything to me outright, but there have been a couple managers who you could tell didn't want me on the field. My thinking is that's their problem, not mine.
While most managers and players seem willing to give Cortesio the benefit of the doubt, there are traces of resentment below the surface.
"I don't comment on any umpires until I make out my report at the end of the year," brusquely stated Russ Morman, manager of the Kane County Cougars, when asked to assess Cortesio's work.
But Cedar Rapids Kernels manager Tyrone Boykin is not only tolerant of Cortesio's effort, he is supportive.
"From what I've seen she handles herself with a lot of poise behind the plate," Boykin said. "She's a female in a male's world, but she does as good a job as any I've seen.
"It's sad that there haven't been many female umpires because I'm sure there are others who would like to be given the opportunity. We should all treat her like she should be treated - and that's like an umpire."
For McClellan's part, his partnership with Cortesio has worked out just fine.
"When they told me I would be paired with a woman, I knew it would be different," said McClellan, who like Cortesio is in his first season in the Midwest League. "But I didn't have any expectations. I decided to judge for myself and I think she's doing really good.
"I haven't heard any of the players complain about her, about anything out of the ordinary."
It may be a more enlightened world from when Postema and the other female pioneer umpires tried to get into baseball in the '70s and '80s, but Cortesio understands her chances of ever working a game at Miller Park still are slim at best.
"Why should I be discouraged because the others (women) didn't make it?" she said. "There are 13 other umpires in this league and the odds of any of us ever making it to the big leagues aren't good.
"Maybe the other women had the talent to make it. . . .maybe they didn't. I don't know; I wasn't there.
"I just know I'm going to give it my best shot and we'll see what happens."
Women become lawyers, doctors, surgoens, teachers, physicists, astronauts and astronomers, CEOs, CFOs, presidents of companies, engineers, firefighters, paramedics, healers, professors, etc., etc., etc.; yet, many people still think that women aren't capable of becoming umpires and playing baseball.
We also go through childbirth. There are things that are harder to get through than that, but umpiring isn't one of them.
The situation is probably much worse today than decades ago when considering that about 150 minor league teams are feeding 30 ML franchise - in the 1950s over 800 minor league teams were feeding 16 ML teams.
Things have always been that way throughout the business world - it's extremely frustrating for those who don't have those "ins."It has also become very political and not how good you are but who you know.
How many women are completing the approved umpiring schools, percentage-wise? It would be logical to suggest that if say 5% are woman than roughly 5% of people entering organized baseball through these schools should be female. Currently, I believe the ratio lies at about 0.0%.
Since it's been established that AA and below umps are constantly in jeopardy for their jobs, it seems to me that the better question here is not why Cortesio was canned but why she didn't make it to Triple-A?
Last edited by Brian McKenna; 11-19-2007 at 02:43 PM.
I received some answers to my inquiries. The Professional Baseball Umpires Association hires, promotes and fires umpires up through AA. There is very little movement on the major league level, with most umpires having a long career. PBUC, isn't looking for career minor league umpires and in order to keep young fresh umpires in the system, releases 50-75 umpires each season. If they don't feel an umpire is ready for AAA after being in the lower minors for 6-8 years, those umpires are the candidates to be released. Apparently it was felt that Cortesio didn't have the necessary qualities to go higher then AA.
Judging from the quality (or lack there of) of umpires at the MLB level, maybe MLB needs to start promoting more minor league umpires. I think the overall, collective umpiring of MLB is truly horrible now days.
But, in order for that to happen, both MLB and the minors need to change their status of being good ole' boys organizations. Who knows if that will ever happen.