Welcome to Better Know An Umpire, an effort to educate ourselves on the human elements who have ultimate decision-making power over some 2,500 Major League Baseball games a year. (All cumulative statistics are through the 2011 season, unless otherwise stated.)
Name: Ed Hickox
Uniform number: 15
Height/weight: 5-foot-11, 185 pounds
First year as MLB umpire: 1990
Total MLB games worked through 2011: 1,706 (home plate: 415)
Previous experience: Gulf Coast League, Florida State League, Southern League, Dominican Winter League, Puerto Rican Winter League, International League, Pacific Coast League, New York-Penn League, South Atlantic League
Career ejections: 30
No-hitters called: One (Matt Garza, 2010)
Over/under record (1999-2011): 102-114
Hated in: Toronto
Claim to fame: Worked third base on September 22, 1993 for Nolan Ryan's final game. (The Express faced six batters and didn't record a single out.)
Scouting report from Major League Umpires' Performance, 2007-2010, by Andy Goldblatt:
... Among the most neutral ball and strike callers in the game. When you combine his results for all four seasons under study, you find that his BB/9, K/9, and K/BB are all within one percent of average. That could be a fluke, but if it is, it's a pretty big one.
Scouting report from a random message board commenter:
Ed Hickox can bite my rear end
Average K/9 (2011): 14.0
Average BB/9 (2011): 5.8
Sample PITCHf/x strike zone: September 4, 2010. Toronto's Jose Bautista was ejected for arguing a called third strike. (Called strikes to Toronto hitters are shown as red squares.)
True fact: Hickox has been seriously injured by foul balls while working home plate on two separate occasions, once in 2005 and again in April 2009 (during the Indians' 22-4 win over the Yankees). In each instance, Hickox was wearing protective gear from sporting goods maker Wilson, equipment that he says failed to protect him. He sued over the 2005 injury and was awarded $775,000 this past March. Last week, he sued Wilson again, this time over the 2009 injury, which left him with a concussion that knocked him out for the season (not just a week, as initial reports predicted).
On umpiring: "Just being on the field, walking in Fenway Park, in Yankee Stadium. It's really cool just to be a part of the game itself. The travel stinks, but working on the field is easy, that's what we do best. It's all the off-field stuff that is really tough."
Strike 3 call:
To check out other installments of Better Know An Umpire, click here.