Are Major League Umpires Racist/Bias II:  A Study of Ejections This Season

After reading about the study conducted by the University of Texas on racial discrimination and major league baseball umpires, and the effect on strike calls for pitchers, I decided to conduct a similar study.  The goal of the study was to determine if there is any correlation between umpire's race/ethnicity, a player/manager's race/ethnicity, and a player/manager's ejection.  It would seem to me that racial bias (the University of Texas study determined that there exists a small amount of racial bias among umpires, perhaps unconscious bias) would likely manifest itself even more so in an umpire's proclivity for ejecting a player or manager from a ball game.

Some background on my study, and where we got our data:

I initially was hoping to find data on player/manager ejections for the years 2004-2006, mirroring the UTX study; this data was hard to find.  However I was able to find some amazing data for 2007, from of all places another blog.  And not just any blog, but a blog I read often!  To my amazement, One More Dying Quail has been keeping a log of every ejection this season.  Despite reading that blog regularly, I hadn't noticed this log; I found it via a Google search.  We have to take a moment to commend OMDQ for the fine detail work in keeping this log - it's safe to say that the majority of the work on this study was essentially conducted by OMDQ's logging of every ejection in the 2007 MLB season, through August 6th.  They not only logged who got ejected, but by which umpire (which we thought would be the hardest detail to find), and, as a bonus, the reason for the ejection.  Big big tip of the hat to OMDQ.

Determining Race/Ethnicity for Players, Managers and Umpires in This Study:

We chose to follow the UTX study's lead here; players or umpires are classified as Hispanic if they are born in one of the following countries: Colombia, Cuba, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico or Venezuela.  For this study not only are there no Asian umpires, but not a single Asian ballplayer has been ejected this season!  Gary Sheffield may want to update his comments about Latinos to include Asians. 

Getting the ethnicity of players and managers is easy; we used cbssportsline's player profiles.  My data spreadsheet is available if anyone wants to double-check that we have all the player's ethnicities listed correctly.

As for umpires... that was tougher.  We used MLB's umpire page, and the notes from my post on the UTX study.  There we noted that there are 72 umpires in MLB, 66 white.  We found that the two "black" umpires are Kerwin Danley and Chuck Meriweather.  There was a Jamaican, which we found to be C.B. Cucknor; a Mexican, who turned out to be Alfonso Marquez; Angel Hernandez is Cuban-born; and there was the curious case of what to do about Laz Diaz.

Laz Diaz was born in Florida, but clearly has a Hispanic background.  He's not Caucasian; so despite being born in the US, we have to list him as Hispanic.  We couldn't locate any info on what country to attach him to.  His wikipedia page did provide some interesting, if unrelated, info:

"Díaz's hand-to-hand combat skills were displayed on the baseball diamond when he was attacked by an intoxicated fan while umpiring first base in a game at Chicago's Comiskey Park in April 2003."  We had no idea that this had occurred. Even crazier, it happened at Comiskey Park in a Royals game!  Whenever the Royals stop in Chicago to play the Sox, we recommend that security be on its highest alert for crazy drunk fans running onto the field and attacking participants.

"All things considered, Diaz has served the Major Leagues with many years of hard, unbiased service. Fans, mainly from Philadelphia, would argue this. But in such a controversial position, with all things considered; these opinions are to be expected. This is probably because many of his close calls seem to go against the Phillies."  That seems an odd line in the man's bio.  I think a bitter Phillies' fan snuck in a personal opinion past the Wikipedia guards.

Anyway, we are going to presume Diaz is a Dominican because there was mention of a Dominican umpire in the UTX study, and unless that Dominican retired odds are that Diaz is the man in question.

Sample Size:

The sample size is n=140 ejections through 8/6/07, per OMDQ's data.  Of that, 11 players and 2 managers and one hitting coach ejected were "Black", totaling 14 in all.  1 Colombian, 4 Cubans, 7 Dominicans, 1 Panamanian, 1 Puerto Rican and 5 Venezuelans were ejected, totaling 19 Hispanics in all.  107 were "White". 

Ejections by Player Ethnicity:

Black player/coach = 14
Hispanic player/coach = 19
White player/coach =107


Of the ejections of a player or coach by an umpire, one was by a black umpire.  2 were by the Cuban, 1 was by the Dominican and 5 were by the Mexican for 8 in total by Hispanics.  The Jamaican had one ejection (other).  130 ejections were by white umpires.

Ejections by Umpire's Ethnicity:

Black Umpire = 1
Hispanic Umpire = 8
White player/coach = 130
Other = 1


Actual Data Analysis:

Let's look at some of the data.  In the one ejection so far in 2007 by a black umpire, Chuck Meriweather ejected Cuban coach Fredi Gonzalez for arguing a call at 1B. 

Mexican umpire Alfonso Marquez, the most active minority umpire by far in terms of ejections, tossed out three different Hispanics (one Dominican, two Venezuelans).  He also tossed out two white, but both were for throwing at a batter (an automatic ejection if warned).  The Dominican pitcher he ejected (Hector Carrasco) was also a "throwing at batter" ejection.  Therefore it can be determined that of the non-automatic ejections Marquez has made, they have both been of Venezuelans; Ozzie Guillen once for arguing a check-swing, and Carlos Garcia once for "leaving the 3B coach's box".

The Dominican umpire Laz Diaz ejected Steve Smith for arguing balls and strikes.  Of course Steve Smith is the 3B coach of the Philadelphia Phillies - didn't you read Diaz's Wikipedia page?  He's biased against Philadelphia.  Let's move on.

Angel Hernandez, the Cuban umpire, ejected two whites: Ron Gardenhire for arguing a call at 1B, and Jeff Francoeur for arguing balls and strikes.   He may be biased against people with 4 vowels in their last name. 

C.P. Brucknor, the Jamaican umpire, ejected Woody Williams for throwing at a batter, an automatic ejection.

Only one white umpire - Mike Everett - has rejected multiple black players/coaches, in his case two - Derrek Lee and Gerald Perry.  Both were ejected for fighting during a game June 16th.  He also ejected Chris Young and Jake Peavy, the two best pitchers on SD (both white) for fighting that game.  I don't remember this game, and am not quite sure how the Padres managed to get both their aces ejected from the same game.  Quite a feat.

Several umpires have thrown out multiple Hispanics this season - one was the aforementioned Alfonso Marquez.  White umpire Brian Knight, threw out Fredi Garcia and Taylor Tankersley of the Marlins for throwing at a batter (automatic).  Mike Winters threw out Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez for throwing at a batter, but also threw out Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez for "arguing an obstruction call".  Clearly he has something against Hispanics with cool nicknames (as opposed to simple hyphen nicknames, like A-Rod or K-Rod or E-Rent).

Phil Cuzzi threw out Jose Guillen for charging the mound (automatic ejection), but also throw out Ozzie Guillen for arguing balls and strikes.  Also, Tony Randazza has thrown out two minorities this season - Willie Randolph for arguing a call at 1B, and David Ortiz for arguing balls and strikes.  Considering he's only thrown out one other person - white manager Jim Leyland for arguing balls and strikes - he may be in danger of being labeled "the most biased umpire in baseball".  By me.  Okay, I'll say it: "Tony Randazza is a racist."

Joe West has also thrown out two minorities on judgment calls; he tossed Ozzie Guillen for arguing an obstruction call at 2B, and Cliff Floyd for arguing balls and strikes.  Joe West is an active ejector, having already tossed five people this season, including Charlie Manuel for arguing a balk, Bud Black for arguing a home run call, and Marcus Giles for arguing balls and strikes.

The Top Ejectors, and Race/Ethnicity:

Mike Everitt, thanks to the Cubs-Padre fight, shares the majors in ejections this season with seven.   Phil Cuzzi also has seven.  Bill Miller, Bob Davidson and Alfonso Marquez have five apiece. Joe West and Mark Wegner also have five.  Mike Winters, Larry Vandover Bill Welke and Tim Timmons have 4 (sidenote: the 11 umpires at the end of the alphabet via last name - Tim Timmons down to Young - have an outstanding 30 of the 140 ejections, or 21.4% of the total). 

Mike Everitt's 7 ejections drop to 1 after six "automatic" ejections are taken out of his total (4 for fighting, 2 for throwing at a batter).  Phil Cuzzi has three automatics, dropping him to 4 "real" ejections. 

The top 10 by "real" objections:

Bill Miller - 5
Bob Davidson - 5
Alfonso Marquez - 5
Joe West - 5
Mark Wegner - 5
Phil Cuzzi - 4
Bill Welke - 4
Chad Fairchild - 4
Greg Gibson - 4
Larry Vanover - 4
Tim Timmons - 4

Finally, Ejections by Ethnic Group Combination:

White Umpire, White Player/Coach: 101  (77.7%)
White Umpire, Black Player/Coach:  14   (10.7%)
White Umpire, Hispanic Player/Coach: 15  (11.5%)
White Umpire, Asian Player/Coach: 0 (0.0%)


Next, we took out the "automatic" ejections, where ref's personal judgment is irrelevant: 

Automatical Ejections:

Fighting - 6 (2 Black, 1 Hispanic, 3 White)
Charging the Mound - 1 (Hispanic)
Hitting/Throwing at a Batter - 10 (4 Hispanic, 6 White).

What's left is ejections for "arguing" - balls and strikes being the most common, but balks, obstruction calls, check-swings, HR reversals, warnings (!), and my favorite, arguing an ejection, which got Aaron Boone (who apparently is still playing in the majors!) ejected from a game.  The new numbers:

Umpire's Subjective Ejections:

White Umpire, White Player/Coach: 92  (81.4%)
White Umpire, Black Player/Coach:  12   (10.6%)
White Umpire, Hispanic Player/Coach: 9  (8.0%)
White Umpire, Asian Player/Coach: 0 (0.0%)


Conclusion:  Hardly a tremendous sample set, but it is apparently that umpires tend to eject a white or black player in higher numbers than their population, and under-eject a foreign player.  There are many different reasons for why that might be - one obvious one that jumps out to me is that a foreign player is less likely to argue with an umpire if he can't talk the umpire's language, or understand his response.

It's worth noting that blacks account for only 8% of MLB players; that number is even less when coaches/managers are included in the mix.  So they are ejected at a slightly higher rate.  The same applies to whites.  Again, this data is skewed because most foreign players aren't getting ejected at a rate equal to their portion of baseball's population.

Non-survey Notes and Observations:

  • Derryl Cousins is white.
  • Jerry Crawford is related to Joey Crawford, the NBA referee and noted Tim Duncan hater.
  • Joe West has our vote as the likeliest to pull a Tim Donaghy, if personality temperament is any indicator.
  • Andy Fletcher's picture cracks me up.  It's not surprising he has yet to toss anyone.  He resemblances Buster from Arrested Development, no?  He seems more likely to be mesmerized by the Jumbotron than paying attention to the game.Fletch lives!
  • Bill Hohn's mustache is crazy.  It looks like a prop he wore to picture day.
    My 'stache makes all the pretty girls wanna dance and take off their underpants....

Leave a comment

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[August 21, 2007 8:28 PM]  |  link  |  reply
JJ said

Laughed hysterically at Andy Fletcher's pic....Thank you, I needed the laugh today.

I think Fletcher has an older brother who has fallen to the dark side named Joe Cullen...

Also agree with you that Cowboy Joe West is most like Tim Donaghy in terms of personality.....

[September 20, 2007 12:17 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Isis said

Umpire Laz Diaz is not Dominican; he is Cuban. Get your facts straight.

[September 28, 2007 11:53 PM]  |  link  |  reply
One More Dying Quail said

Wow...believe it or not, I just found this thanks to a visit to my blog. Glad you were able to make use of the information I've compiled over there. Hope my rate of error wasn't too high.

If I have some free time in the future, I'll try to put together data for past seasons. I get my information from box scores on Yahoo! Sports. It's tedious, but they include the vital information for most ejections.

[November 1, 2009 9:41 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Anonymous said

Mike Everett really needs to be let go from Umping in the MLB, he has made some of the worst calls at home plate I've ever seen!

Against both Yankees and Phillies, he's not biased, just plain senile!

I really am astonished. I mean, he's standing right there and Howard slides into home plate without even touching the base, CLEARLY not safe, and he calls him safe.

Mike Everett, a Little League umping job is beckoning you.

[April 16, 2010 1:46 PM]  |  link  |  reply
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[July 27, 2010 8:22 PM]  |  link  |  reply
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There is a video about this on YouTube. If you want the link contact me. You should include it in your post.

[August 8, 2010 1:00 PM]  |  link  |  reply
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