TITLE: Umpire (Baseball Umpire)
ALTERNATIVE TITLE: Baseball is Murder
Baseball Umpire – AUTHOR: Alan Nafzger
GENRE: Baseball and Detective-Drama
THE SHOW’S PREMISE – Baseball Umpire
The show revolves around the day-to-day life of Al Harvey, a widowed and “politically” retired sheriff. He’s become a successful MLB umpire and amateur detective. Despite travel demands, Al remains a resident of Key West, a friendly island community in Florida. He’d rather not “enter” the game and shies away from any hero status. However, he is inherently a hero who solves the murders that occur around professional baseball. He bristles at any press coverage, but still, he manages to stay in the headlines. He’s a very reluctant celebrity.
AL HARVEY (lead character) – Baseball Umpire
Al Harvey is a respected umpire and crew-chief and he always acts to protect baseball from enemies inside and outside of the game. He solves various murders and crimes that are committed inside and or near baseball stadiums. Directors and Cinematographers should take care to showcase the architecture. Baseball Umpire
Al Harvey takes his old dog to every city with him and spends a healthy part of his per diem on dog walkers, dog spas, and grooming. He’s hired people to watch the dog in a hotel room and he’s hired people to bring the “service” dog to the stadium. He’s been accused of ethical violations but he’s always proven innocent. The only “unethical” thing he’s ever actually done was show “favoritism” by allowing a team owner’s eight-year-old daughter to play with (pet sit) the dog in a luxury box when one of the dog walkers doesn’t show up. Thank goodness, the press never got a hold of that; they would have roasted him.
The show always starts with a preview of the episode’s events, with Al Harvey on the phone with a cute accounting secretary and saying: “$340 per diem for hotel and meals, plus first-class commercial airline tickets…lets see… your crew will be in Miami”, or whatever MLB host city he will be working in. Baseball Umpire
The show always ends with an on-field controversy or difficult call or ruling. For example, Al Harvey throws a manager out of the game but the manager is caught sneaking back into the game, wearing a ridiculous fake mustache.
When murders need solving, Al Harvey invariably proves more perceptive, and honest, than the official investigators of a case, who are almost always willing to arrest the most likely suspect. By carefully piercing the clues together, observation, and thorough listening, he always manages to make the right call, pointing out the real murderer.
His style is much like his umpiring. He stands in the background and listens to the drama. He has fewer lines than any other series leads. This is because he doesn’t “enter the game” he stands at the edge. When a man (or woman) enters a ballpark, their sole duty is to fairly umpire a ball game. Baseball Umpire
However, murder has been occurring with such regularity in the vicinity of MLB parks that baseball writers coin a new phrase “Baseball is murder”. Dead bodies are abundant inside or within eye shot, of major league stadiums. It’s fiction, but in the story, if baseball parks were an FBI’s national crime statistics category, MLB would be as dangerous as Washington D.C. or Chicago.
In the off-season, the stories can be set in Daytona Beach with Al moving into a hotel there part-time, in order to teach at the famous umpire school. Cooperstown or the home office of MLB in Manhattan.
Jimmy Buffet is his hero, and he even has earbuds for his dog. Baseball Umpire
Murder: She Wrote (1984) meets the Major League Baseball Umpires Association.
The Crew – (regular appearances) – Baseball Umpire
Al Harvey’s crew is a bit eccentric off the field.
- Jimmy “The Cowboy” Snyder — Montana cowboy. His heroes are Larry McMurtry, Louis L’Amour, and Elmer Kelton. If you mention either Johnstone, there is probably going to be a fight. Jimmy takes a western novel with him everywhere.
- Edu “Go Go” Góes — New England. Portuguese-American who grew up worshipping Carl Yastrzemski. Against the rules, he wears Red Sox underwear. When Edu makes a date, he asks the woman to sign a non-disclosure agreement that she will not speak about the “color, trademark, or nature” of his undergarments.
- Bodhi “Flintsone” Durbidge – California surfer type. Loves coastal assignments and struggles to be on time for the game, if there is an ocean around. Brings his surfboard even to Kansas City.
Each is eccentric in a charming way. However, on the field, they are incredibly professional. They all respect the game, have paid their dues, and understand the unique job that baseball does to link generations. The game never changes and that allows fathers and sons, and now fathers and daughters, to bond properly. All four men understand that if we change baseball, fathers and their children won’t share the same game and the same experiences.
Bo Parker (regular appearances) – Baseball Umpire
Former professional baseball player, Bo Parker (a pitcher), is now an FBI agent with his female boss wrapped around his finger. He feels he can travel anywhere and inject himself into any case. He stalks Al and stands in his way often. He holds a grudge and feels entitled to meddle in the cases. He’s always wrong.
Tony O. Mayer (regular appearances) – Baseball Umpire
Left-wing (possibly an anarchist) baseball writer who calculates that his job is to tear everything and everyone down. He is mean, jealous, and always a contrarian.
Police (guest appearances) – Baseball Umpire
Al’s relationship with law enforcement officials varies from place to place. Many cops are retired players, some are friendly and some unfriendly. However, most detectives and police officers do not want him anywhere near their crime scenes, until his accurate deductions convince them to listen. Some are happy to have his assistance from the start, often because the cops are baseball fans.
Women in Baseball (guest appearances)
Al has quickly learned and freely admits, that if he needs access or information, he can’t contact the men in the front office. They all have a grudge either with him or with umpires in general. Too much testosterone in the room. Al is single also. So, at each stadium, he makes friends in the office with various women working in baseball. Baseball writers describe him as “a ladies man who walks on the ledge of impropriety”, but that simply is not true. Al never stopped mourning his dead wife and it’s only obvious to the women.
Al treats the young women with respect and they appreciate that and are very loyal to him. These women are the key to solving the cases. Women working as local scouts, directors of player development and even concession vendors bring information to the show and help Al understand the office-politics, which is different inside every team’s office.
Episodes – Baseball Umpire
All the cases, in the end, turn out to be unrelated to baseball. In every episode, Al Harvey saves baseball from embarrassment by finding that an interloper is responsible. The league wants him to move to New York and head up investigations, but he politely refuses and remains an umpire.
Each of the 30 major league teams gets an episode. This isn’t about New York and Los Angeles.
- Chicago erupts in controversy when a high-tech tycoon buys the Cubs and plans to level Wrigley Field to build a new stadium on the “holy” location. Al and his crew officiate what is supposed to be the last game at the historic stadium. But the next morning, as the wrecking cranes arrive, the body of the tycoon is discovered on the pitching mound. Al is there to pay his last respects and soon begins to weed his way through the plenty of enemies the tycoon has made. It’s not about the stadium, but about a technology patent dispute.
- Ralph Peacemaker, a Native American descended from a tribe who lived in the area of Cleveland, Ohio, claims he owns the entire town per an agreement the British made with his tribe. Extreme tension begins with many residents when he begins to “protest” demand “rent”, and it is made worse when someone murders Chief Peacemaker. Al and his crew not only officiate a flawless game, but they solve the murder and prove the authenticity of the native people’s claim.
- After an elderly Astros’ owner dies in Houston, Al is made the executor of his complicated will that gives ownership of the team to a son and the ownership of the farm clubs to a mistress. They will never work together efficiently. Naturally, things become complicated when competition for the team and its farm clubs (the real treasure because of an oil and natural-gas discovery) ends in a murder.
- When a group of 45 men dressed as Thomas Magnum attends a Detroit Tigers game, Al ejects them for cursing, for smoking, nudity, catcalling women and fighting in the seating. However, when one of the men are found dead in a trash dumpster, Al and his crew become suspects and the story quickly becomes a threat to the integrity of baseball. The group, still drunk the next morning, inform the police that they saw four men in “Blue” approach the man after the game. The group gives dozens of interviews to newspapers, magazines, radio stations, podcasts and more. Security cameras do show Al and the crew approaching the man, but they try to help the man enter alcoholics anonymous. Later, the man is murdered by enemies and it’s not related to baseball.
- After getting an assignment to umpire a series in San Diego, Al receives a phone call from his old college coach, and currently, the Padres manager. The crew officiates the games, but Al finds out why his dearest coach is being framed for a murder he didn’t commit.
- On April 1st, a New York baseball writer plays a joke on the Boston Red Socks fans by publishing a story that their infamous stadium is haunted by a mysterious man who is a vampire. The journalist also announces that he will be in Boston researching Fenway Park history for a book. When a homeless man, who has been living inside the scoreboard of years, is murdered with a stake in his heart, the journalist is accused of the murder. However, the murder turns out to be related to the homeless man’s wife who has escaped a lunatic asylum months before. She’s angry he didn’t help her escape.
- When Al travels to Arlington Texas, he becomes embroiled in the murder of a retired Texas Ranger general manager, possibly related to a trade that took place a decade earlier.
- When a retired Kanas City Royal releases a debut novel, The Sin in Baseball, the league and the city are both appalled to have this sort of negative attention. The book is labeled as fiction but has thinly-veiled references to actual players, managers, coaches, and front-office personnel and it quickly causes an uproar and the murder of the player that wrote it. Turns out unrelated to baseball.
- When Al proves a wife killed her Colorado Rockies player husband, everything seems sorted. But when she claims to be innocent, and millions of dollars have gone missing, the MLB wonders: has he gotten it all wrong?
- Al Harvey helps a rookie Saint Louis Cardinal whose immigrant mother is accused of the murder of their racist and skeezy condo association president.
- A philandering playboy businessman is murdered and the San Fransico Giants’ manager of premium seating and client relations is charged by an inept police detective.
- After one person dies and several others become ill after eating Mama’s Italian Special Heros at Citi Field in New York, what is initially thought to be food poisoning turns out to be just old-fashion poison, so Al has to figure out who poisoned the peppered ham, salami, homemade mozzarella, with mushrooms and peppers and why.
- Al helps one of his crew search for a son-in-law, who abandoned his daughter and ran off to Cincinnati. The son-in-law is thought perhaps dead. Al’s search leads him to a stadium’s concession operation that is plagued by accidents and suddenly, a murder of a hated hot dog vendor. The crew member’s son-in-law, who works as a rival vendor, is a suspect and the general manager has the police more concerned about the case affecting attendance than about the facts. In the end, Al learns the dispute was over a YMCA basketball game held every year between the baseball vendor and the hockey stadium vendors.
- When an all-time great is inducted into the Hall of Fame, Al is invited to the ceremony so he can be made the butt of a joke in the speech. However, when the inductee is tied to the murder of a professional gambler specifically banned from Cooperstown, Al tags along with the detective working the case. Was the gamble silenced by the inductee or a different player?
- Al travels to New Orleans where the Commissioner of Baseball has been accused of killing a businessman who is negotiating an expansion team. Turns out the murder was carried out on the orders of N.O. underworld mobsters, inside an illegal gambling den during a Mardi Gras parade. Al has to call balls and strikes to uncover the real killer. New Orleans will not be one of the expansion teams.
- To publicize an innocent prisoners project, Al and his crew agree to umpire a baseball game in a men’s prison. When the prison warden is found dead, the inmates riot and take over. To stop the trigger happy governor from taking the prison by force, Al must unravel what really happened. He solves the case but also proves one of the inmates not guilty.
- It’s the 50-year anniversary of Sandy Kofax and the NL All-Stars are visiting the Japanese Islands. To promote MLB and US-Japanese trade, the President of the United States accompanies the Los Angeles Dodgers to their home opener scheduled for Tokyo. On a flight to Japan, Al and a former player, now Secret Service agent, investigate the murder of an agent and the theft of gold, platinum, and diamonds worth more than $5 billion. The US is returning the treasure to the Japanese Emperor. True story, the treasure was lost when the Japanese ship Awa Maru was torpedoed by the USS Queenfish and sank in April 1945.
- The season’s final episode begins with a sinister-looking meth addict tinkering with the engine of a small private plane. Al and the crew are passed over for the World Series (NY vs LA) and there is a considerable disappointment. However, Al has become involved in a significant relationship and she knows nothing about baseball. She’s an aesthete and theater lover, so he finds himself in New York at a broadway play. Before the performance, Al unexpectedly meets the Commissioner of Baseball and is offered the position as chief the MLB’s investigative unit. It would mean considerably more money and less stress on his aching knees. As the play begins, we hear Al’s phone vibrate; Al’s date is pissed. It’s baseball news and the Commissioner’s phone has buzzed as well. They pull up the news notification and a plane with the umpires for that night’s game has crashed in rural Pennsylvania. Al is affected and can’t focus on the play. He sweats and can’t remain still. After the play, his date is visibly mortified. The Commissioner approaches him and asks him if he can pinch-hit the World Series game. His crew is spread out in each of the time zones. Al agrees to work with individual members from four other crews, who happen to be in New York. They are men he’s never worked with before. He kisses his date on the cheek and climbs inside the Commissioner’s car.
- The first episode of the second season begins after the World Series game. Outside the stadium, the secretary from accounting has a rental car waiting for him. She’s excited and asks if he’ll be working out of the New York office from now on as the chief investigator. He pauses and contemplates. No, he will not be, but he needs the car to drive out to the crash site. Al leaves Yankee stadium in a rented car. He drives all night and arrives at the crash site as the sun rises. Al will discover what we already know, that the plane’s engine was tampered with.