Bruce Froemming Roast,
Milwaukee Athletic Club
November 15, 2007
I’m fortunate enough to work for a company that found time for me to be able to attend this event, despite having heard about it at the last minute. Bruce has been a good friend to Dodgertowners and he appreciated us being represented. He says Harry Horowitz still has some unpaid Kangaroo Court fines. Harry?
Here’s some random tales from the evening I thought you guys might enjoy.
Note – there’s 2 photos at the very bottom of this so don’t miss them!
· Joe Buck was brilliant as MC: (Bruce and Jack Buck were great friends).
· “My job as MC tonight is not to stand up here and bore you to death but to introduce you to people who will”.
· One of the presenters had a bit to drink and used some very blue language in contrast to the rest of the presenters. After he sat down, Joe said, “I just wanted to let you know that Ken’s line of children’s books will be available in the lobby at the close of the program”.
· After a particularly dry presentation from a member of the dais – “And I thought 4 minutes on the treadmill was a long time”; “Let me know how that stand-up comedy career is going.
· After a grainy, ‘sorry-I-couldn’t-be-there-tonight’ DVD: “What was that?! That looked like a hostage video”. “Nice to know he thinks enough of you Bruce to spare absolutely no expense on the production.”
· As the Roast went on, some presenters better than others, many exceeding their allotted time, Joe said, “OK, what we’re going to do is go with some break-out sessions. Those who want to hear what Jimmy Leyland thinks of Bruce, go to Salon A; those who want to hear what his high school coach thinks of Bruce, Salon B…”
· Rosemary was reported to have said their 40-year marriage was destined to be a success because they both fell in love with the same man.
· The difference between God and Bruce Froemming? God doesn’t think he’s Bruce Froemming.
· Bruce has a brain like Einstein; it’s been dead since the 1950s.
· Jimmy Leyland said he overheard Bruce’s wife say to Bruce, “Let’s go upstairs and make love” and Bruce said, “One or the other honey, I can’t do both”. That’s when Bruce knew it was time to retire.
· Bruce is so old he has an autographed Bible.
· Groaner of the night: “What do you do if you’re facing a Rhino with 3 balls?”. Answer: “Walk him and pitch to the giraffe”.
· Don Zimmer said he’s enjoying life staying under the radar in Florida. He’s had lots of offers to return to the game in a more significant way but likes his low-key lifestyle. He said, “I think I’m some kind of advisor but I’ve been doing this 2 years and no one ever asks me nothin’”. Don feels the game today is too long.
· He congratulated Bruce on umping over 5200 games but said it’s odd that he has absolutely no friends.
When Bruce started in the major leagues Sandy Koufax had 4 wins. There was no “Tonight Show” yet. He got his start while at Vero Beach as a minor league umpire. The major league umps shared the same space of course and Bruce went up to a seasoned MLB ump and said he’d welcome the opportunity to work home plate in the next game.
You just didn’t ‘do’ that and this ump (Eddie Barlick?) went and vented to Mr. O’Malley, “Who does this kid think he is?”. O’Malley said to give him a shot. He did and Bruce did a great job and took a shortcut to the majors.
One of Bruce’s first jobs was helping the local undertaker. He got $7.50 per body he brought in. (That’s a true story, not a joke). Probably where Bruce got his personality (That ‘is’ a joke and a clear editorial cheap-shot).
Once, Bruce ejected the entire press box.
Bruce is known for protecting ‘his guys’. Once Lasorda was working over a young ump at the plate, [with] Froemming on third. Froemming told him that’s enough. Lasorda said he wasn’t even talking to him. Froemming said, “You look out for your team, I’ll look out for mine”.
Once a young ump was having a very hard time in Atlanta, lots of arguing from both sides. The ump called a strike on Chipper Jones who refused to get back in the batter’s box. After somewhat of an impasse, the ump, per the rules, directed the pitcher to pitch with a hand gesture. Of course, wherever the pitch is thrown, it’s called a strike, by the rules. Well, the pitcher thought the ump just wanted to look at the ball and the catcher was sort of preoccupied temporarily with the hitter so he rolls the ball to the plate. Ump calls ‘Strike three!’. Jones goes crazy, crowd goes crazy – Jones gets ejected. Even Bruce had his hands full keeping the peace.
When it was Bruce’s turn to speak, he ‘roasted’ right back. He went through the presenters basically saying, “I don’t know why he’s here” and “I think his bowling league must have been cancelled tonight”. Mike Winters, the ump involved in the Milton Bradley issue in San Diego, has worked with Bruce the most during Bruce’s career. Bruce, “Hey, he needed the help”. Anyway, typical Bruce.
A representative from the governor’s office declared it Bruce Froemming day and gave him a nice plaque. Bruce looks at it and goes, “Great, it’s Bruce Froemming Day and we have 90 minutes left before its tomorrow. You couldn’t have given this to me [this] morning?”.
That’s the ballgame fellas!
Editor's note: Thanks to Steve Costomiris for sharing this most memborable evening.