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AL concludes Hirschbeck didn’t make ethnic remark

August 22, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ Umpire John Hirschbeck made no ethnic remarks when shouting at Japanese pitcher Hideki Irabu, the American League concluded Friday.

Hirschbeck, however, did make profane comments to the pitcher during an argument Wednesday night at Anaheim, AL vice president Phyllis Merhige said. Yankees third baseman Charlie Hayes had claimed to teammates that Hirschbeck made a profane comment about Irabu’s nationality.

``He cursed at him but he didn’t imply any ethnic slurs,″ Merhige said. ``That’s for sure. If you talk to most Yankees, they’ll say he didn’t say what they originally accused him of saying.″

Merhige said she will discuss the situation Monday with AL president Gene Budig.

``Whether Gene does anything about it, we haven’t discussed it yet,″ Merhige said.

Wednesday night’s confrontation was the second for Hirschbeck in less than a year. Baltimore Orioles second baseman Roberto Alomar spit in the umpire’s face following a called third strike last September, claiming Hirschbeck cursed at him.

``I’m not going to draw any conclusions yet,″ union head Donald Fehr said. ``I don’t know as of yet what to make of it. We’re still gathering information. Then we’ll consider what, if anything, we should do at that point.″

If disciplinary action is taken, the league is unlikely to make it public.

``I think what Phyllis said should stand,″ Budig said. ``I’m not commenting at this point in time.″

A union official, speaking on the condition he not be identified, said players may use the situation in an attempt to convince management that players should not be penalized when they make profane comments toward umpires.

Hirschbeck confronted Irabu after the pitcher threw a tantrum on the mound when called for a balk for the second time during the game. That’s when Hayes claimed the remark about Irabu’s nationality occurred.

``It did not happen,″ Hirschbeck was quoted as saying. ``Japanese was never said. I did cuss. That’s part of the game. But I never said anything racially. On the lives of my family, that is the truth.″

No other Yankees players verified Hayes’ account, and Yankees manager Joe Torre said he heard nothing inappropriate.

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