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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Back room deal--Umpires bagged by MLB, Inc. to work next WBC in exchange for re-instating 2 other umps & WEARING MIKES

March 23 (Bloomberg) -- Major League Baseball's umpires agreed to work the 2009 World Baseball Classic and wear microphones during some games this season to get two umpires who lost their jobs in a labor dispute reinstated.

Tom Hallion and Ed Hickox, who were among 22 umpires that weren't rehired after resigning eight years ago, were made full- time umpires for this season, said Rob Manfred, baseball's chief labor negotiator.

``We wanted the best umps available for the WBC because it is a world-class event,'' Manfred said in an e-mail.

Minor-league and fill-in umpires officiated the inaugural World Baseball Classic, an MLB-created international competition, last year because baseball couldn't reach an agreement with the umpires union. Calls on some game-changing plays were disputed.

A message left with the World Umpires Association wasn't immediately returned and President John Hirschbeck didn't return a message left on his mobile phone. Messages left for Hallion and Hickox through Major League Baseball weren't immediately returned.

1999 Resignations

Hallion and Hickox lost their jobs in 1999 when 57 umpires resigned during a labor dispute. The umpires rescinded their resignations, and baseball only rehired some of them. The union splintered, a new organization was formed and 22 umpires ended up unemployed.

Hallion and Hickox worked in recent years as substitutes for big-league umpires who were on vacation.

A controversial call marred the U.S.-Japan second-round game during the World Baseball Classic. The home-plate umpire overturned a play in the eighth inning that would have given Japan the lead. He ruled the Japanese runner on third left too early on a sacrifice fly. Television replays supported the initial ruling that the runner didn't leave the base before the ball was caught.

****Good luck getting all the players through Olympic drug testing for the 1st time.****sm

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