Umpiring in Major League Baseball is one of the hardest things to do in sports.
You have to know the rule book cover to cover so that they can enforce an obscure rule on players that may not even know the rule exists, having to tell whether hundreds of pitches often traveling 95+ MPH miss by a few millimeters, be on the road for six months of the year, have perfection be the baseline for being good, and having an increased risk of work-related injuries are just some of the things that umpires have to deal with on a regular basis.
It’s even harder when you’re in limbo on a full-time job.
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Guccione had nine years in between his MLB debut (in April of 2000) and his first season as a full-time MLB umpire (2009) due, in part, to a mass resignation of umpires that saw 55 umpires (split between the National League and American League as Commissioner Bud Selig was in the process of combining the umpires from each league since they had been separated since umpires had been in the major leagues) submit resignations as part of a failed labor negotiation tactic in July of 1999.
The umpires did not believe that the resignations would be officially submitted by their union’s attorney, Richie Phillips, but he did submit them and the resignations could not be rescinded it backfired.
In September of 1999, 22 of them were accepted.
You can read more about the whole debacle here.
Along with three retirements after the 1999 season, 25 umpires had to be hired.
Through arbitration, exactly half of the umpires that resigned (11 of them) came back to the majors. However, they had to be rehired as full-time umpires again when other umpires retired.
That pushed off Guccione’s hiring until 2009 when umpire Larry Poncino, himself one of the umpires whose resignation was accepted and rehired before the 2002 season, retired after the 2008 season after missing ’08 to injury.